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Female enrollment in tertiary education seeing steady progress at Webster University Ghana Campus

According to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, Ghana’s female population in tertiary institutions is 5.6 million, with a total male population of 15.2 million.

In 2017, female enrolment in tertiary education was 13.53 percent, while male enrollment was 18.68 percent. This calls for major adjustments to raise girls’ enrolment in tertiary education in Ghana.

But the numbers at the 2022 graduation ceremony of the Webster University, here in Ghana, revealed that indeed the efforts to increase the enrollment of girls is seeing steady progress as majority of its graduates were women.

At the event which took place on Saturday, it was all smiles for graduates, Management, family, and friends of the graduands.

The overall best graduating graduate student, Abigail Owusu, and the overall best graduating undergraduate student, Olivia Claesson, shared their excitement with JoyNews.

Female enrollment in tertiary education seeing steady progress at Webster University Ghana Campus
Overall best graduating graduate student, Abigail Owusu

“It’s so awesome, I think it’s such an honor and I am so grateful to have been nominated for the position of a valedictorian”, Abigail said.

“I feel very proud and I’m also very glad that I followed my gut, telling me that you should actually go and study in Ghana”, Olivia said.

Female enrollment in tertiary education seeing steady progress at Webster University Ghana Campus
Overall best graduating undergraduate student, Olivia Claesson

Speaking after the ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai stressed the need for women to be supported to realize their goals.

“It is a delight to see so many women graduating today. I have always said that women are fifty per cent of the population of Ghana and so when you see them pursuing their careers, pursuing their education and wanting to contribute to society, I think it is phenomenal and they should be supported,” she noted.

The Academic Director, Dr. Linda Deigh, also explained why there are more females graduating from the University this year.

Female enrollment in tertiary education seeing steady progress at Webster University Ghana Campus

“Today, with our graduates it might seem that we have more women than men, but I don’t think that it is deliberate or intentional, it is just their approach that we take in delivering the learning experience women take,” she said.

Touching on the activities of the school, during the period under review, the Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, Dr. Simone Cummings, noted that, despite the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school’s academic calendar, was not disrupted.

She explained that the students were already familiar, with virtual learning methods, hence there were minimal challenges during the early days of the pandemic.

Female enrollment in tertiary education seeing steady progress at Webster University Ghana Campus
Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, Dr Simone Cummings

“We have been offering the zoom format for the past five years or so, what we call our network format in which we offer students the opportunity to take classes by zoom. So when the pandemic hit, we were able to transfer all of those students over to zoom format very easily and it worked well for us,” she explained.

A graduate, Joshua Fiifi Asante, who also doubles as a worker, explained how he navigated the cumbersome task of combining his lessons with his economic engagements.

“The Webster experience has been an amazing one…Combining work and school has not been an easy one but by grace we have been able to come this far and I’m excited about the new possibilities that a Webster education offers every Webster student”, he said.

Education they say is the key to success, and with more people having access to same, especially the girl child, there is no telling how far society will be transformed.

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African Liberation Week: How a Pan-African movement is driving African youth to action for African Liberation

From its founding in 2016, Africans Rising (africansrising.org) has endeavoured to raise the profile of Pan-African solidarity especially among the youth of the continent and its diaspora.

Its African Liberation Day commemoration brings thousands of Africans home and abroad on the same platform connected by the same desire to see a peaceful, just and dignified Africa.

Through a consultative, grassroots-led, innovative process, the movement has created a truly unique way to commemorate the historic moment when Africa almost became a country 6 decades ago. In this way, a strong connection is built between the struggles of the youth and the endearing past of their forebears, from which they must learn.

Each year, choosing a theme that resonates with the African masses, Africans Rising makes the effort to rally people from all walks of life encouraging them to take action.

The notion of African Liberation Day has its roots in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in May 1963 at a 3-day conference of then new independent countries.

That conference starting from 23rd May that year in the ancient African city of Addis Ababa was a decisive platform for the future of Africa. The discussions centred on many things but principally liberation and unity. It was to be decided whether African countries were to bind together to form one giant country or to move independently but with cooperation amongst themselves.

Those who advocated immediate unity became known as the “radicals” while those who advocated separate sovereignties were known as “gradualists”. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, two of the foremost theorists on African unity came to symbolise the opposing perspectives on that critical question.

The latter was later in 1997 to admit the correctness of the position of the “radicals”. Back then in 1963, in the tense debate between Africans who saw themselves as siblings divided by colonialists in an 1884 Berlin conference, the gradualists carried the day and the conference ended on 25th May with the formation of the Organisation of African Unity to work towards gradual unity.

While all that is history, African youth are taking inspiration from this historic moment. And Africans Rising is rallying and supporting them to do this in actionable and consequential ways.

History of Africans Rising’s African Liberation Day Mobilisations

On May 25, 2017, 2000 volunteers, partners, supporters and friends organised a total of 300 actions and events in 42 countries on the African continent and the Diaspora to march the launch of Africans Rising. On May 25, 2018, the mobilisation was even more massive as hundreds of individual actions and events were carried out in 54 countries including 6 in the African Diaspora. In 2019, activities spanned from film screenings, media engagements, public symposia, to panel discussions and several other activities on modern day slavery. In 2020 and 2021, Africans Rising focused on the health and wellbeing of Africans and African communities, given the COVID-19 pandemic and its disastrous consequences across all aspects of life, through our#Rise4OurLives campaign.

African Liberation Week; #AfricaforAfricans

This year, the mobilisation has been expanded to include a whole week of activities. The uniqueness of African Rising’s approach is in its emphasis on supporting grassroot movements and activists in organising and taking action rather than duplicating their action. This is buoyed by the understanding that the grassroot movements are best placed to carry out meaningful actions and spread the fervour of African Liberation among the people. Unlike, other commemorations which hold grand events at the continental level, the focus on grassroots brings the conversation on African liberation to the people where it truly belongs.

Under the theme, #AfricaforAfricans, the African Liberation Week spanning the entire week of 25th May (i.e 23rd May to 29th May 2022), promises to galvanize the youth for African liberation way beyond the May and perhaps even far beyond 2022. The theme itself highlights the hope and ambition of the African youth.

#AfricaforAfricans draws inspiration from Marcus Garvey’s Pan-African rhetoric of the early 20th Century meant to rally people of African descent to embrace their land – Africa. In its contemporary rendition, Africa for Africans connotes the need for Africans to take ownership and control of the destiny of their continent.

This means a commitment to ensure that the wealth of the continent benefits the people, not external forces and not a small clique of African elites, but the people – all the people.

It also underscores the burning imperative to protect the land from destruction as the sub-theme climate and environmental justice highlights. People protect what they own. Within a neo-colonial context, Africa has been extracted from the African.

In other words, when the great wealth that is extracted from the belly of the continent is juxtaposed with the mass poverty and other iniquities afflicting the people, Africa can hardly be said to be present in the lives of the masses of African people. It is time to restore hope to African youth to realise their potential within an Africa that is peaceful, just and dignified.

Africa for Africans goes with specific sub-themes that speak to specific contemporary issues – Decolonisation rallies those Africans both within the continent and in the diaspora who are working on decolonising educational curriculum, financial systems, economic, social and cultural institutions many of which continue to perpetuate exploitation; Gender justice seeks to mainstream the idea of a gender equal society in creating the #AfricaWeWant; Health as a sub-theme continues the conversation on COVID-19 within the African context especially as regards equitable access to healthcare, vaccines, investment in health expertise and equipment as have become even more imperative given the COVID reality; and Climate and environmental justice meant to capture the important and urgent issue of climate change and the need to protect the environment.

African youth in various fields of endeavour are making strides, trying whatever they can to leave their mark. All they need is an environment that values and harnesses their potential, the systems that support and enable them rather than curtail their growth and the platforms that unify their actions towards the #AfricaWeWant.

Africans Rising has started a process and together with partners who are doing invaluable work, a peaceful, just and dignified Africa is achievable in our lifetime, even if it at present looks too distant.

News

Opportunity International supports customers with interest buy-down and guarantee facility

Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited, a leading Savings and Loans company in Ghana in collaboration with the Visa Foundation is implementing an Economic Recovery and Rebuild Initiative (ERRI) project to help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on businesses of its existing clients through interest buy-down and guarantee facility.

With funding support from the VISA Foundation, the ERRI commenced in June 2021 and comes to a close in May 2022.

The main objective of the ERRI was to help reduce the interest burden of our existing clients by reimbursing them with 50% of their interest amount. This is to reward our loyal clients while also encouraging new clients and defaulters to repay their loans so that they can benefit from such interventions.

The beneficiaries of this facility comprised of individual women clients or groups with majority of women membership. Eighty-five percent (85%) out of the total eight hundred and fifty-two (852) beneficiaries were women.

One key qualification criteria used in the selection process for these clients was to complete their loan repayment without defaulting at the end of the maturity date and with a minimum loan cycle of seven after which the client benefits from the interest buy-down, in the form of a 50% interest refund.

To avoid the culture of loan delinquency, the guarantee facility was not communicated to the beneficiaries. However, the agreed discounts were applied to the accounts of qualifying applicants.

Additionally, The UPS Foundation which is similar to the VISA Foundation redesigned its program to create the financial and managerial capabilities of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as well as connect them to both financial resources and the market through interest buy-downs to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Given this reason, the project reduced the interest rate for PWDs for both existing and new clients. A total of fifty-six (56) PWDs benefited from the project, with 31 of them being women.

On successful implementation of the ERRI project, a survey was conducted within the beneficiary communities to ascertain the impact of such an intervention and how the assistance has improved their lives.

An overwhelming majority of ninety-five (95%) of our clients hailed the project as an important intervention at a time when COVID had disrupted many local and global production and distribution systems. These responses are clear attestations of the positive impact that the ERRI project has had on our loan clients and Opportunity International as a business.

Most importantly, the Opportunity International brand has been established within the beneficiary communities as one committed to not just conducting the business of banking but also to the overall development of its customer base.

Opportunity International Savings and Loans Limited is a leading savings and loans institution in Ghana. Opportunity International is at the forefront of delivering transformational financial services to help transform the lives of clients.

The Institution serves over 610,000 depositors with loans, deposit products, and other services across 10 out of the 16 regions of the country. It operates in 23 countries across the globe serving nearly 10 million clients with the Global office in Chicago, USA.

The Visa Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Visa, works with charitable organizations to support underserved people and communities. As its central focus, the Visa Foundation is committed to helping low-income, financially underserved micro and small enterprises around the world to thrive and prosper.

The UPS Foundation is a leading UPS’s global citizenship efforts and philanthropy since 1951. The UPS Foundation’s philanthropic approach centres on four focus areas: health & humanitarian relief, equity and economic empowerment, local engagement and planet protection.

News

GSMA to improve women’s digital safety with Mobile tokenisation

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift in how people get access to information, services and conduct business.

As governments in most countries implemented hard lockdowns to curb the spread of the pandemic, mobile phones allowed people to stay connected and access critical services and information.

This contributed to the growth of mobile internet usage, with over 3 billion people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) now accessing the internet on the palms of their hands.

In LMICs, the majority of women own a mobile phone and over half now use mobile internet. However, compared to men, women are seven percent less likely to own a mobile phone and 15 percent less likely to use mobile internet.

This is particularly evident among women who are the most underserved, including those with low literacy, low incomes, who live in rural areas, or have a disability.

The wide-ranging benefits of mobile technology are evident in the everyday life of underserved communities, especially in LMICs. Not only do mobile phones enable access to voice and communication services, but they are also often the only way to access the internet and digital financial services such as mobile money.

Access to mobile money accounts can help to unlock a variety of secure and life-enhancing services including savings, credit and insurance products and utilities.

Improving women’s uptake and use of mobile services and mobile money can reduce the gender gap, offering women the chance of greater empowerment and autonomy over their personal and financial affairs and helping them become increasingly digital citizens.

The need for women’s safety in mobile technology

In many parts of the world, mobile network operators are working to understand and address the various barriers that women face trying to access and use mobile technology. Along with social norms and discrimination, one of the key barriers include those relating to safety and security.

While access to mobile phones can help women feel safer, they can also be a conduit for threats, highlighting the inconsistent relationship between mobile technology and women’s safety. Such inconsistencies can act as a barrier to access and usage; limiting a women’s use or ownership of a mobile phone altogether.

One of the primary ways that women can feel unsafe when using mobile technology is through mobile-related harassment, including unsolicited phones calls and text messages. This is in part due to the misuse of mobile numbers obtained by agents or at points of sale, which are commonly shared with the agent or merchant when making transactions.

Approach for tackling the problem

The GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab is collaborating with GSMA Connected Women and MTN Ghana to explore innovative ways in which tokenisation of mobile phone numbers can be used to improve security for women, and customers more broadly.

Tokenisation is a technology in which a sensitive data element is substituted by a non-sensitive equivalent, referred to as a token, that has no exploitable meaning or value. Additionally, this can assist to ensure that users feel secure when accessing mobile money services.

This mobile tokenisation solution has been developed to improve safety and security for women who are using their mobile money accounts for cash-in and cash-out of money and performing a payment at a merchant location, but it showcases just one of the use cases where a user’s sensitive data, such as a phone number, can be replaced with a token – a non-sensitive, context-restricted number.

The customer can request a token at any time over SMS or USSD. Using the token number, the customer has access to a variety of mobile money services, avoiding the disclosure of their mobile phone number. On the other side, the agent does not need to do anything different. The phone number field can be filled with the token number and the transaction will proceed normally. If desired, the user can delete the token and request a new one.

Shaping the perception

The solution was created with a user-first mindset, aiming to keep the interaction intuitive and with changes that do not impact the processes users are accustomed to. With the target user group in mind, this is key to accommodate users’ digital skills and existing behaviours with minimal disruption.

At the same time, the technological solution was designed such that it requires minimal changes to the operator’s current platform. This is possible because the token can have the same format as the current mobile number. In that way, the system interfaces in the same way to access services required by users and agents, requiring only small changes on the server-side and making the solution more easily implemented and deployed by industry players.

It is vital that providers consider women’s mobile-related safety concerns in LMICs to enable access to basic services and provide opportunities for the personal and economic growth of women.

News

Old Mutual celebrates 177th anniversary globally; 10 years in Ghana

Old Mutual Group, a pan-African investment, savings, insurance, and banking group, is celebrating its 177 years of operation globally with the Ghanaian unit also marking its 10th anniversary.

The Ghana unit, which provides insurance and pensions services, has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative insurance and pensions products and services in the country while showing the way when it comes to diversity in the workplace and leveraging technology for business growth.

Chief Executive Officer of Old Mutual Ghana, Tavona Biza, said having operated in Africa for over 176 years, the Old Mutual brand has made a mark as an outstanding and caring brand strongly known for its integrity, sound corporate governance and its contribution towards Africa’s socio-economic development. 

“Old Mutual Ghana provides life insurance and pensions solutions to its customers. We offer the best life insurance packages for corporate organizations and help individuals achieve their lifetime financial goals. Old Mutual Ghana is currently made up of Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited and Old Mutual Pensions Trust Company Limited,” he added.

Touching on the company’s achievements and technological advances in Ghana over the past 10 years, Mr. Biza said; “Old Mutual has a strong customer-led approach to our technology strategy. We have made investments in embedding security, ensuring our systems are always on, the simplification and modernization of our technology, ensuring our skills keep pace with the rapidly changing technology landscape and striving for a culture of innovation.”

He added that the company has also introduced a number of revolutionary products and services into the market, chief amongst them is the Old Mutual Retirement Salary Plan, which is designed to provide a steady cash flow – a retirement salary – for people during their retirement years and to alleviate the fears of outliving their savings. “We stand as the first insurance company to bring out this product,” Mr. Biza stated proudly.

Old Mutual Ghana, he added, as part of its digital strategies to be an innovative business, launched an automated WhatsApp chatbot to handle all customer queries and enquiries.

Diversity and inclusion

With 450 staff across nine locations in the country, Mr. Biza touched on the company’s diverse and inclusive structure which has led to 70 percent of its leadership being women, which is higher than corporate Ghana’s average.  

“We will continue to drive diversity and inclusion, innovate around product and customer solutions, attract and retain best talents in the market, impacting the Ghanaian market through financial education programmes and investing in technology,” he said as he nods towards a brighter future for the business.

Marking the historic milestone

Rita Adu Boateng, Customer Experience & Marketing Executive at Old Mutual Ghana explained that Old Mutual Ghana, as part of the celebrations in Ghana, will be interacting with the media to share the brand’s rich heritage and experience in the financial service space; embark on a comprehensive financial education in some selected senior high schools, donate items to students after the financial education programme and top it all off with an interactive session with employees on the brand’s 177 years.

Financial Education

Old Mutual ‘On The Money’ is a Financial Education programme which encourages people to change their financial behaviour and to understand money-related issues and new skills to help maintain positive financial behaviour. With its well-run digital campaign, the financial education programme has reached over 300,000 persons on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The campaign led to Old Mutual winning the Best Marketing Campaign of the Year at the 4th Ghana Insurance Awards.

Social investment during COVID-19

Old Mutual, during the most difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been very active in supporting communities and institutions at the frontline. The company donated GH¢150,000 worth of surgical gloves and nose masks to three hospitals in Accra and Kumasi.

“We distributed 1,750 branded nose masks in some parts of Accra (Dansoman, Kaneshie First light, Korle Bu junction, Osu Oxford, Gold House runabout and Accra mall) and customers who visit any of our branches

We partnered with Vine Christian High on their online E-Learning platform during this COVID-19 pandemic for all customers (for Grade 7 & 8 / JHS1 / 2 students) and rewarded the best five students with cash prizes and branded Old Mutual souvenirs. GH¢1,200 Education policy was given to the overall best performing student,” Ms. Boateng added.

As a digitally inclined brand, Old Mutual was and continues to be very active with social media campaign on how to keep financial stability and impact in the COVID-19 pandemic. “Covid saw an introduction of our hybrid system where employees both work from home and the office intermittently. The introduction of the telesales unit which helped in reaching customers through sales during the lockdown period,” she added.

Old Mutual Ghana

Old Mutual Ghana is Ghana’s top 10 leading financial institution with an innovative record in offering the best in insurance services to its clients. Founded in South Africa, Old Mutual has been consistent in championing mutually positive futures by offering excellent financial services to a wide range of customers across the African continent.

The company established a branch in Ghana in 2013. It operates with skilled knowledge of the Ghanaian market backed by the expertise of an international brand. In Ghana, the company is currently made up of Old Mutual Life Assurance Company Limited and Old Mutual Pensions Trust.

News

Banks register ¢2.9 billion in 4-months of 2022

Banks in the country registered ¢52.9 billion in the first four months of 2022, signaling a healthy industry, the Bank of Ghana has revealed.

This represented a 26.3 % growth, compared with 39.6% growth for the same period of last year.

The banks’ earnings were influenced by growth in net interest income and net fees and commissions. However, the growth margins went down, comparatively to last year.

Net interest income grew by 12.2% to ¢4.6 billion, compared to 18.4% growth a year ago. Net fees and commissions grew by 17.7% to ¢1.1 billion, compared with 26.5% growth last year, due to decline in trade finance-related activities in the economy.

Other income increased to ¢1.0 billion, representing 117.5% growth, relative to the contraction by 7.9% last year.

Banking sector assets remain strong

Also, developments in the banking sector also indicated strong performance, despite the reversal of the COVID-19 regulatory relief measures in March.

Total assets rose to ¢194.3 billion at the end of April 2022, about 24.8% annual growth, relative to 16.4% growth in the previous year.

The growth was underscored by increased deposits and borrowings.

Total deposits grew by 21.3% to ¢127.2 billion, while borrowings recorded a strong growth of 66.2% to ¢25.9 billion at the end of April 2022.

Financial Soundness Indicators robust

According to the Bank of Ghana, the key Financial Soundness Indicators also remained strong, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio at 21.3%, well above the regulatory minimum of 13.0%.

Importantly, Non-Performing Loan ratio eased to 14.3%, compared with 15.5% the previous year.

These developments resulted in a 22.1% jump in operating income to ¢6.7 billion, compared with 16.8% growth in the corresponding period of 2021.

Operating expenses recorded 23.0% growth compared to 1.7 % growth in the previous year.

Credit to private sector shows considerable improvement

The Bank of Ghana said credit to the private sector showed considerable improvement, almost back to pre-pandemic levels and broadly in line with the uptrend in economic activities.

In nominal terms, private sector credit recorded a significant annual growth of 26.5% in April 2022, compared with 6.9% in April 2021.

In real terms, however, private sector credit grew by 2.3%, due to sustained price pressures, relative to a contraction of 1.5% recorded for the same comparative period.

In terms of new advances, the data shows that credit growth continued to improve, reaching ¢16.4 billion, representing a 56.5 percent year-on-year growth.

Meanwhile, the latest credit conditions survey revealed that banks are however beginning to tighten credit stance on loans to enterprises and households. Despite the tightening of credit conditions, demand for credit by households and firms continue to remain strong.

News

BoG increases policy rate by 200 basis points to 19%, cost of credit to go up

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana has for the second consecutive time increased the Policy Rate – the rate at which it lends to commercial banks by 200 basis points to 19%.

This was announced by the Governor, Dr. Ernest Addison.  

The increase in the Central Bank’s monetary policy rate means cost of borrowing is expected to go up at least for the next two and half months.

Prior to the announcement of the Policy Rate, the Central Bank has indicated its intention to tame inflation in order to bring interest rates down and consequently lending rate.

The Governor said the rising inflation is a surprise to his team, but will take a major decision to address the issue.

“It’s an issue which in a sense is baffling to all of us. A year ago, inflation in Ghana was near single digit, particularly we were at 7.5% and then we find ourselves a year later in high double digits. It’s a very complicated environment, as you yourself you are aware we have come out of COVID-19. But Ghana fortunately was able to weather the impact of COVD well without recording high interest rates.”

News

Reality zone with Vicky Wireko: Do you see some silver lining in Covid-19?

A lady in a facemask shopping at Accra Central when the lockdown was lifted on April 20, 2020.

If it is a truism that every dark cloud has a silver lining, then Covid-19, despite its devastations, has definitely brought us not one, not two, not three but possibly many many silver linings to help mankind.  This includes the fast discovery of vaccines.

Certainly in the area of public health, we have some learning and definitely some habits that are going to be part of our lives for some time to come. That is an assertion by some experts.

At a talk organised by Zonta Club of Accra recently on the impact of Covid-19 on women, Dr Christine Boatemaa Mensah of the Health Link Hospital in Accra held her audience spellbound with a list of benefits that the pandemic has brought into one’s life. Here in this country alone, medical experts have acknowledged a few.

Speaking on the topic: “The impact of Covid-19, Role of women”, Dr Mensah enumerated the health benefit outcomes of the pandemic in our country.

It is gratifying to note that for almost two and a half years since the pandemic turned our world upside down and brought misery to many homes, cases of other forms of infectious diseases due to poor hygiene practices have dropped significantly. 

Personal hygiene

Though she did not support her claim with statistics, Dr Mensah said the high levels of alertness and the awareness created in good personal hygiene, coupled with regular handwashing with soap under running water, necessitated by Covid-19, have seen very few people reporting to hospital or health care centres with hygiene-related diseases.

She said that in our environment, diseases which were quite recurring in communities including cholera, diarrhoea and dysentery have all come down in the last two and a half years. She explained that this could only be assigned to the good hygiene practices that many people have now adopted on regular basis.

Food health

Quite apart from the improvement in personal hygiene, another good practice the pandemic has taught people is to concentrate on healthy and well-balanced foods. Thankfully, people have now come to know such super spices as ginger, garlic, and cloves, which are described as immune boosters and are regularly used in cooking.    

With Covid-19, people have become conscious of what they eat; it has influenced the daily selection of ingredients and menus by out of home caterers who have also turned to cook healthy meals in their trade.

The same goes for drinks.  Many people are now pushing for naturally produced fruit juices rather than fizzy or soft drinks as often referred to.

Asthma

The other good news coming out of Covid-19 is the lowering of asthma cases. With the use of masks in public places, including schools, the case of sufferers breathing in polluted air which triggers the attack has also minimised

Overall, the level of education related to Covid-19 has helped tremendously to improve one’s living standards and healthy practices. The use of disposable tissues and handkerchiefs when sneezing or coughing has now become common, whereas it was not so in times past. 

Spitting indiscriminately around and blowing noses in the open air is gradually reducing.

Covid-19 has been a curse in many homes in the last couple of years.  The devastation it brought at the onset left many families and friends who lost their dear ones, broken and shattered.

However, the hard-earned lessons it has left in many minds, homes, workplaces and schools and the positive lessons imprinted in many may live with them for years to come. 

Covid-19 is a curse, a never wished for thing. However, on the flip side, it definitely has its positive sides.  Lives have been dimmed by the atrocious nature of the pandemic but many more lives have also been made richer.

The question is how does one build on the positives for the better? Pandemics come and go but are we picking up and forging forward with those lemons thrown at us?

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The writer can be contacted via email at vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com

News

Ghana records $4.5bn remittances in 2021, places 2nd in Sub-Saharan Africa – World Bank

Ghana kept its 2nd position as Sub-Saharan Africa country with the largest remittances in 2021, the World Bank Migration and Development Brief has revealed.

The country picked up 5% increase in inflows in 2021 to record $4.5 billion, with more promising oil export prospects. In 2020, remittance inflows into the country stood at $3.6 billion.

Indeed, remittances constituted 5.9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), placing it 10th in the region.

Nigeria was ranked 1st in the region, with remittances of $19.2 billion in 2021, about 11.2% increment.

Stronger-performing countries in 2021 included Kenya, enjoying healthy GDP growth (6.7%) but suffering severe drought in its northeast region, which in part served to attract a robust 20% expansion in remittance receipts.

Ghana records $4.5bn remittances in 2021, places 2nd in Sub-Saharan Africa - World Bank

Tanzania’s receipts were propelled higher by 60% on the back of increased incidence of COVID-19.

The Gambia enjoyed a 30% upturn grounded in a new government (and new currency), while Mozambique’s migrant workforce finally responded with some force (a two-thirds increase in flows to $570 million) to support the hard-hit residents of Cabo Delgado, amid an insurgency against mega liquefied natural gas projects in the region.

Importunately, remittance inflows soared 14.1% to $49 billion in Sub-Saharan Africa during 2021 – more than erasing the falloff of 8.1% recorded in the prior year and representing the strongest gain since 2018.

Factors that supported a return to growth included economic activity in Europe and the United States, which remained firm, and a restoration of recorded inflows to Nigeria, which had slipped by about 28% in 2020 due to increased use of informal channels.

Meanwhile, the report stated that Africa stands as the developing region most exposed to fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as indirect effects build over time. Most countries—net oil/ food importers—are now facing a steep decline in terms of trade, which is increasing deficits and debt, boosting inflation, and cutting into real incomes and growth.

Remittance costs

The report said Sub-Saharan Africa remains the costliest developing region to which remittances are sent.

Aggregate regional remittance costs averaged 7.8% during the fourth quarter (Q4) 2021. The average cost of remitting $200 from countries in the least expensive corridors amounted to 3.4% in Q4 2021.

In contrast, costs for the most expensive corridors registered 31.5% during the fourth quarter of 2021, an increase of 12.3% from the year earlier.

Though intraregional migrants in Africa comprise more than 70% of all international migration from or within the region, intraregional remittance costs are quite high due to the small quantities of formal flows and utilization of black-market exchange rates. For example, the fee for sending $200 in remittances from Tanzania to neighboring Uganda would cost the Ugandan migrant 29.7%.

Outlook

The report said the uncertainty and risks in the outlook for remittances to Africa (2022–23) are exceptionally high against the background of global conditions affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The key staple commodity for the region – wheat – gained 24% over the course of 2021 – and an additional 22% since the February 2022 invasion.

Higher oil prices is expected to dominate external accounts for the 36 net oil-importing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, and expectations of deeper current account deficits and worsening debt positions are widespread, the report added.

But unprecedentedly higher wheat prices may be of greater concern, as they will hurt households disproportionately, especially poorer and urban populations.

News

North Korea: Fighting Covid with tea and saltwater

North Korea is grappling with the spread of Covid in an unvaccinated population, without access to effective anti-viral drugs.

In early 2020, the country sealed its borders to try to insulate itself from the pandemic.

Its leadership has so far rejected outside medical support.

And state media has recommended traditional treatments to deal with what is referred to as “fever”.

Hot drinks

For those not seriously ill, ruling-party newspaper Rodong Simnun recommended remedies including ginger or honeysuckle tea and a willow-leaf drink.

People sit near a screen showing a news broadcast at a train station in Seoul on May 12, 2022, of North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un appearing in a face mask on television for the first time to order nationwide lockdowns after the North confirmed its first-ever Covid-19 cases.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared in a face mask to order nationwide lockdowns

Hot drinks might soothe some Covid symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough, and help hydration when patients are losing more fluid than normal.

Ginger and willow leaf also relieve inflammation and reduce pain.

But they are not a treatment for the virus itself.

Salt water

State media recently interviewed a couple who recommended gargling with salt water morning and night.

A “thousand of tonnes of salt” had been sent to Pyongyang to make an “antiseptic solution”, the state news agency reported.

Some studies suggest gargling and nasal rinses with salt water combat viruses that cause the common cold.

But there is little evidence they slow the spread of Covid.

Army personnel in pharmacy in North Korea
The army has been brought in to distribute medical supplies

Mouthwash could kill the virus in the lab, a study found.

But it has not convincingly been shown to help in humans.

Covid is mainly caught by inhaling tiny droplets in the air via the nose as well as the mouth, so gargling attacks only one point of entry.

And once the virus has entered, it replicates and spreads deep into the organs, where no amount of gargling can reach.

Painkillers and antibiotics

State television has advised patients to use painkillers such as ibuprofen as well as amoxicillin and other antibiotics.

Boxes of paracetamol on shelf
Painkillers can help with symptoms – but will not stop the virus

Ibuprofen (and paracetamol) can bring down a temperature and ease symptoms such as headache or sore throat.

But they will not clear the virus or prevent it developing.

Antibiotics, meant for bacterial infections not viruses, are not recommended.

And using antibiotics unnecessarily risks developing resistant bugs.

Laboratory research suggests some may slow the spread of some viruses, including Covid.

But these have not been replicated in the real world.

And a study of the antibiotic azithromycin found it made little or no difference to Covid symptoms, the likelihood of hospital admission or death.

There are some approved drugs to prevent people with Covid ending up in hospital:

  • antivirals paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir
  • antibody therapies that mimic the immune system

But their effectiveness is variable.

Health system

North Korea’s health system has been set up to offer free medical care from basic services at village level up to specialised treatment in government hospitals (usually in urban centres).

But the economy has contracted in recent years because of sanctions and extreme weather such as droughts.

Closing the country’s borders and strict lockdown measures will also have had a damaging impact.

Screengrab from Korean state TV
State media has reported Covid cases and referred to isolation treatment

Particularly weak outside Pyongyang, the health system is thought to suffer shortages of personnel, medicines and equipment.

A report for the UN, last year, said: “Some of the pharmaceutical, vaccination and medical-appliance plants do not reach the level of good practice of the WHO [World Health Organization] and do not meet local demand as well.”

Many North Korean defectors to South Korea have told of having to pay for medication or finding treatment and drugs limited to privileged members of the ruling party.

But state media says it is now increasing production.

International aid

North Korea turned down three million Chinese-made doses, last year – and reportedly rejected other offers – under Covax, the global vaccine-sharing scheme.

South Korea says it has had no reply to its offer of vaccines, medical supplies and personnel.

North Korea has reportedly recently sent three planes to collect medical supplies from Shenyang.

These had not included “anti-pandemic supplies”, the Chinese foreign ministry said, but it was “ready to work with North Korea… in the fight against the coronavirus”.

News

North Korea: Fighting Covid with tea and saltwater

North Korea is grappling with the spread of Covid in an unvaccinated population, without access to effective anti-viral drugs.

In early 2020, the country sealed its borders to try to insulate itself from the pandemic.

Its leadership has so far rejected outside medical support.

And state media has recommended traditional treatments to deal with what is referred to as “fever”.

Hot drinks

For those not seriously ill, ruling-party newspaper Rodong Simnun recommended remedies including ginger or honeysuckle tea and a willow-leaf drink.

People sit near a screen showing a news broadcast at a train station in Seoul on May 12, 2022, of North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un appearing in a face mask on television for the first time to order nationwide lockdowns after the North confirmed its first-ever Covid-19 cases.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared in a face mask to order nationwide lockdowns

Hot drinks might soothe some Covid symptoms, such as a sore throat or cough, and help hydration when patients are losing more fluid than normal.

Ginger and willow leaf also relieve inflammation and reduce pain.

But they are not a treatment for the virus itself.

Salt water

State media recently interviewed a couple who recommended gargling with salt water morning and night.

A “thousand of tonnes of salt” had been sent to Pyongyang to make an “antiseptic solution”, the state news agency reported.

Some studies suggest gargling and nasal rinses with salt water combat viruses that cause the common cold.

But there is little evidence they slow the spread of Covid.

Army personnel in pharmacy in North Korea
The army has been brought in to distribute medical supplies

Mouthwash could kill the virus in the lab, a study found.

But it has not convincingly been shown to help in humans.

Covid is mainly caught by inhaling tiny droplets in the air via the nose as well as the mouth, so gargling attacks only one point of entry.

And once the virus has entered, it replicates and spreads deep into the organs, where no amount of gargling can reach.

Painkillers and antibiotics

State television has advised patients to use painkillers such as ibuprofen as well as amoxicillin and other antibiotics.

Boxes of paracetamol on shelf
Painkillers can help with symptoms – but will not stop the virus

Ibuprofen (and paracetamol) can bring down a temperature and ease symptoms such as headache or sore throat.

But they will not clear the virus or prevent it developing.

Antibiotics, meant for bacterial infections not viruses, are not recommended.

And using antibiotics unnecessarily risks developing resistant bugs.

Laboratory research suggests some may slow the spread of some viruses, including Covid.

But these have not been replicated in the real world.

And a study of the antibiotic azithromycin found it made little or no difference to Covid symptoms, the likelihood of hospital admission or death.

There are some approved drugs to prevent people with Covid ending up in hospital:

  • antivirals paxlovid, molnupiravir and remdesivir
  • antibody therapies that mimic the immune system

But their effectiveness is variable.

Health system

North Korea’s health system has been set up to offer free medical care from basic services at village level up to specialised treatment in government hospitals (usually in urban centres).

But the economy has contracted in recent years because of sanctions and extreme weather such as droughts.

Closing the country’s borders and strict lockdown measures will also have had a damaging impact.

Screengrab from Korean state TV
State media has reported Covid cases and referred to isolation treatment

Particularly weak outside Pyongyang, the health system is thought to suffer shortages of personnel, medicines and equipment.

A report for the UN, last year, said: “Some of the pharmaceutical, vaccination and medical-appliance plants do not reach the level of good practice of the WHO [World Health Organization] and do not meet local demand as well.”

Many North Korean defectors to South Korea have told of having to pay for medication or finding treatment and drugs limited to privileged members of the ruling party.

But state media says it is now increasing production.

International aid

North Korea turned down three million Chinese-made doses, last year – and reportedly rejected other offers – under Covax, the global vaccine-sharing scheme.

South Korea says it has had no reply to its offer of vaccines, medical supplies and personnel.

North Korea has reportedly recently sent three planes to collect medical supplies from Shenyang.

These had not included “anti-pandemic supplies”, the Chinese foreign ministry said, but it was “ready to work with North Korea… in the fight against the coronavirus”.

News

NIB, AADFI to lead dialogue on innovative financing solutions for development

National Investment Bank (NIB), the country’s foremost Development Finance Institution, will host senior management and experts in development finance across Africa in Accra from May 23 to 25 for the 2022 General Assembly of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI).

The three-day Assembly will occur at the Labadi Beach Resort under the theme ‘Unlocking Innovative Resources for Development Finance: Agenda for African DFIs.’

It comes when NIB is being restructured to support industrial corporates with funding and advisory services in line with the Government’s industrialisation program.

Over the past few years, Africa has made strides in the area of Banking and Finance, Agriculture, Education, Health, and Infrastructure development, among others, all geared toward lifting the people out of poverty.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only crippled economies worldwide but also succeeded in clawing back the gains made, slowing down and, in some cases stopping entirely or stalling progress for many institutions and nations alike.

For NIB, the 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly will provide a platform for stakeholders to re-strategize ways to obtain more investment for sustainable, environmentally-friendly developmental projects and ecosystems that will help Africa endure and withstand the shocks of future pandemics.

It will also provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences from different institutions and countries in development financing.

Activities

The event will feature the Board of Directors meeting, the Annual Workshop, and the Ordinary General Assembly of the AADFI. It will also include a Retreat for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of National DFIs.

Focus Area

The 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly will examine options for raising suitable development funds to support the recoveries of the African economies, as well as the possibilities and most innovative financing instruments available to African DFIs.

Solutions on innovative financing for development will also be proffered toward positively impacting the economy.

The role of Ghana’s development finance institutions – National Investment Bank (NIB), Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM), and Development Bank Ghana (DBG) – in development will be highlighted, and the need for them to be given the necessary support to perform.

The issue of managing local currency risks and hedging solutions will also be presented, which will offer the opportunity to discuss solutions for strengthening the resilience of national DFIs in mobilising innovative resources for development projects.

Beyond the issues to be discussed, the annual event of the AADFI provides a unique platform for networking among the DFI community.

Speakers

The key speakers include the Vice-President of the Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialisation of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Solomon Quaynor; the CEO of the European Organisation for Sustainable Development (EOSD), Arshad Rab; and the CEO of the TCX Fund, Ruurd Brouwer; among others.

The event will be attended by CEOs and Senior Management Executives of African DFIs, supervisory authorities, including Ministries of Finance and Central Banks, representatives of International DFI and Agencies, and other key stakeholders in the Development Finance space.

The 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly is hosted by the National Investment Bank (NIB), the country’s foremost development finance institution (DFI).

NIB, therefore, has a crucial role to play in the Development Banking Space, especially in the advent of the establishment of DBG.

Whereas NIB will continue to focus directly on industrial corporates by providing medium to long-term financing and advisory services, the DBG will complement the services of NIB by serving as a source of medium to long-term financing at reasonable interest rates to NIB for on-lending.

News

Economy growing strongly, data suggests robust pick-up – Governor

The Ghanaian economy is growing strongly despite the threat of rising inflation and the recent sharp volatility of the cedi, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison has pointed out.

According to him, data secured by his outfit so far indicates that the economy continues to rebound, irrespective of the challenges.

Speaking to Bloomberg ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, which began yesterday, 18th May, 2022, Dr. Addison said he real sector of the economy has been resilient despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Ghanaian situation in a sense also reflects what happened in 2020 where the government took a very expansionary stance on policy. Therefore there were many interventions that was put into place in order to protect lives and livelihoods.”

“The impact of that was real sector being more resilient than we see in other places. As I said, we are beginning to see a pick-up in growth in 2021”, Dr. Addison emphasised.”

Indeed, sectors such as Information, Communications and Technology; Tourism and Hospitality; Manufacturing have bounced back, registering strong growth rates.

“Some of the data that has come in 2022 does not suggest that we are slowing down”, the Governor noted.

“I believe, if we were to choose between growth and inflation, the policy priority should be managing the pace at which prices are increasing”, he added.

Economy expanded by 5.4% in 2021 – GSS

Ghana’s economy expanded by 5.4% in 2021, far higher than the 0.4% recorded in the year 2020, a period that COVID-19 pandemic had severely hit the global economy.  

Without oil, the economy recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 6.9%

According to provisional estimate by the Ghana Statistical Service, only 10 countries in Africa recorded growth rates higher than that of Ghana. They included Cote d’ lvoire and Uganda.

The strong growth rate was driven by the Services sector, particularly the Information, Communication and Technology (33.1%) and the Agriculture sector, such as Fishing (13.4%).

The Services sector recorded the highest GDP growth rate of 9.4% in 2021.

News

NIB, AADFI to lead dialogue on innovative financing solutions for development

National Investment Bank (NIB), the country’s foremost Development Finance Institution, will host senior management and experts in development finance across Africa in Accra from May 23 to 25 for the 2022 General Assembly of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI).

The three-day Assembly will occur at the Labadi Beach Resort under the theme ‘Unlocking Innovative Resources for Development Finance: Agenda for African DFIs.’

It comes when NIB is being restructured to support industrial corporates with funding and advisory services in line with the Government’s industrialisation program.

Over the past few years, Africa has made strides in the area of Banking and Finance, Agriculture, Education, Health, and Infrastructure development, among others, all geared toward lifting the people out of poverty.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only crippled economies worldwide but also succeeded in clawing back the gains made, slowing down and, in some cases stopping entirely or stalling progress for many institutions and nations alike.

For NIB, the 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly will provide a platform for stakeholders to re-strategize ways to obtain more investment for sustainable, environmentally-friendly developmental projects and ecosystems that will help Africa endure and withstand the shocks of future pandemics.

It will also provide an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences from different institutions and countries in development financing.

Activities

The event will feature the Board of Directors meeting, the Annual Workshop, and the Ordinary General Assembly of the AADFI. It will also include a Retreat for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of National DFIs.

Focus Area

The 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly will examine options for raising suitable development funds to support the recoveries of the African economies, as well as the possibilities and most innovative financing instruments available to African DFIs.

Solutions on innovative financing for development will also be proffered toward positively impacting the economy.

The role of Ghana’s development finance institutions – National Investment Bank (NIB), Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM), and Development Bank Ghana (DBG) – in development will be highlighted, and the need for them to be given the necessary support to perform.

The issue of managing local currency risks and hedging solutions will also be presented, which will offer the opportunity to discuss solutions for strengthening the resilience of national DFIs in mobilising innovative resources for development projects.

Beyond the issues to be discussed, the annual event of the AADFI provides a unique platform for networking among the DFI community.

Speakers

The key speakers include the Vice-President of the Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialisation of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Solomon Quaynor; the CEO of the European Organisation for Sustainable Development (EOSD), Arshad Rab; and the CEO of the TCX Fund, Ruurd Brouwer; among others.

The event will be attended by CEOs and Senior Management Executives of African DFIs, supervisory authorities, including Ministries of Finance and Central Banks, representatives of International DFI and Agencies, and other key stakeholders in the Development Finance space.

The 2022 AADFI Annual General Assembly is hosted by the National Investment Bank (NIB), the country’s foremost development finance institution (DFI).

NIB, therefore, has a crucial role to play in the Development Banking Space, especially in the advent of the establishment of DBG.

Whereas NIB will continue to focus directly on industrial corporates by providing medium to long-term financing and advisory services, the DBG will complement the services of NIB by serving as a source of medium to long-term financing at reasonable interest rates to NIB for on-lending.

News

831 Human trafficking victims rescued, 13 convicted – Security agencies

The security agencies say they rescued 831 human trafficking victims in 2021 alone.

This was followed by 32 prosecutions, out of which 13 people have so far been convicted.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP), Dr Afisah Zakariah, disclosed this in a speech read on her behalf at the opening of a three-day capacity building programme on ‘Combating Human Trafficking and Irregular Migration in Ghana’ in Ho in the Volta Region.

About 70 personnel of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Police Service, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and welfare officers from the Volta and Oti regions attended the three-day workshop which was organised jointly by the MOGCSP and Expertise France, with funding from the European Union (EU).

The objective was to enable the participants to effectively investigate, rescue human trafficking victims and prosecute the offenders.

Illegal migration

Dr Zakariah said despite Covid-19 and the subsequent closure of the country’s frontiers, human trafficking activities and illegal migration still took place across the borders.

“Traffickers now have a new modus operandi to lure their victims into sexual exploitation, child labour or domestic servitude with false and lavish job offers,” she added.

Dr Zakariah said globally that human trafficking was now the second-largest trade and organised crime. That made the capacity building for the security agencies crucial for the protection of the vulnerable, especially women and children.

In a presentation, the Volta Regional Police Commander, COP Edward Oduro-Kwateng, revealed that domestic human trafficking was more prevalent than transnational trafficking and in most cases the victims were children.

In the Volta Region, he said, boys were trafficked from other parts of the country to work in the fishing industry, quarries and on cocoa farms for long hours under very dangerous conditions.

COP Kwateng said some of the girls were trafficked to the region to smoke and sell fish in the fishing communities.

“Some of these girls are sexually exploited by the fishermen and older trafficked boys,” he disclosed.

A Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI), Daniel Nyampong Okantey, said in the first quarter of 2022, the GIS intercepted and repatriated 168 people between the ages of 18 and 35 who were suspected to be human trafficking victims from the West Africa sub-region.

He said out the figure, 119 were male and nine were female.

West Africans

DSI Okantey, who is the chaplain of the Volta Regional Command of the GIS, said most of them were from Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.

The training topics included Effective Investigations and Prosecution of Sex and Labour Trafficking Offences, Surveillance and Intelligence Gathering for Human Trafficking, Border Response and Support for Victims of Human Trafficking and Docket Building: Interviewing, Evidence Taking and Victim support, among others.

News

Time to reduce dependence on foreign aid -Akufo-Addo to African policymakers

President Nana Akufo-Addo Wednesday called on African researchers and policy makers to scale up policies that would reduce the Continent’s dependence on foreign aid.

They should pursue a path of self-respect and take actionable steps to create the enabling environment to build prosperity and development to make Africa rich and resilient, he said.

“The time to pursue a path of prosperity and self-respect for the African Continent is now,” he said at the opening of the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development (AABD) Conference, at the University of Professional Studies, Accra.

The six-day conference, on the theme: “Sustainable Development Beyond Aid: The Focus for Africa,” is being attended by researchers, business practitioners, consultants, community leaders, and policy makers.

The AABD annual conferences aim at facilitating multidisciplinary research by stimulating collaborations between Africa based researchers and professionals and their counterparts around the world, by broadening and deepening global understanding of various issues relevant to Africa’s business and development, as well as advancing solutions to some of the challenges.

President Akufo-Addo said the concept of “Africa beyond Aid” was about acknowledging development in a sustainable manner, ‘taking the bull by the horns’, and take responsibility for sustainable growth while perceiving fellow African countries as key stakeholders in development.

Africa must chart the path of self-dependence and her countries must engage with each other competitively through trade and investments and cooperate for enhanced regional and global peace and security, he said.

The Continent ought to move more towards the efficient and effective mobilisation and use of resources to grow out of the dependence on aid rather than a rejection of aid, he stressed.

“We seem to have missed out on many opportunities to make Africa the continent she deserves to be, rich and resilient. But it is not too late to right the wrongs, it is time to catch them now.”

“It is time to create the future we want for our continent, and it is time to start building that future inspired by the imperative to transform our economy from raw material producing and exporting economies to value adding industrial economies.”

The President, thus, urged the conference to ensure its deliberations helped Africa’s quest to get to the point beyond aid.

The proceedings of the meeting, he implored, should contain actionable proposals for consideration. He urged participants to also focus attention on the IMF’s unprecedented Special Drawing Rights reallocation, for which Africa shared some 30 billion dollars, much less than 100 billion dollars promised in the 2019 Paris Summit, intended to provide additional financial resources to address the vast surging inequities the pandemic has revealed.

President Akufo-Addo asked the conference to articulate policies that would help strengthen African financial institutions like the African Development Bank, AfriExim Bank, and the Africa Finance Corporation, to enable them to take over greater responsibility for the financing of Africa’s development.

They should advocate debt cancellation for African countries to provide a sound foundation
for the continent’s future progress.

The President asked the meeting to propose measures to help significantly increase Africa’s capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation to finance its development potential, create opportunities for the Continent’s vibrant and dynamic youth, and develop and deliver improved livelihoods for the people.

They should re-evaluate the role of foreign credit rating agencies, which acted as gatekeepers to global capital markets and their modus operandi, including the fixing of the so-called Africa risk premium.

Additionally, participants must examine the measures available to Africa to check the illicit outflow of capital from the Continent, which is currently estimated around 100 billion dollars per year.

The conference should also place the development of Africa at the centre of the preoccupations of the African diaspora, President Akufo-Addo said.

The conference is expected to deliberate on issues relating to over 14 thematic areas: Accounting, Finance, and Investment; International Aid, Economic Policies and Strategies; Entrepreneurship, Small Business and the Informal Sector Exporting, Internationalisation and Foreign Direct Investment; Information and Communication Technology, Digital Transformation; and COVID-19 and Business in Africa.

News

Togo opens land border with Ghana

Neighbouring country, Togo has officially opened its land borders with Ghana.

This comes close to three months after Ghana reopened its land borders to neighbouring countries.

The metal gates which were closed between the two countries for two years in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic were swung open at about 8:30am Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Graphic Online, however, observed that both sides of the frontier remained desolate with little human movement and commercial activities across the border.

“Today is the first day, and some people in Lome and Aflao have not yet heard about the reopening,” said a senior Togolese immigration officer.

Togo opens land border with Ghana

Similarly, on the Ghana side, Assistant Commissioner of Immigration (ACI) in-charge of the Aflao Sector of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) said the number of human and vehicular traffic across the border would definitely increase in subsequent days.

He noted that personnel of the Aflao Sector GIS are ready for any upsurge in the number of travellers across the border.

Togo opens land border with Ghana

So far, he said no untoward incident occurred along the border.

Graphic Online reported that some heavy-duty vehicles were using the ECOWAS Border Post at Akanu, near Dzodze, some 50 kilometres from Aflao, and that it contributed largely to the low volume of traffic at the Aflao Border Post.

Later in the day, a few hawkers turned up at the border post, in the hope of doing brisk business.

As of 1:30pm, 65 Ghanaians and 16 nationals of other ECOWAS countries had entered Lome from Aflao; while about a 100 people left Lome for Aflao.

Togo opens land border with Ghana

Most Ghanaians used their Ghana Cards or passports to cross the border smoothly.

The NDC MP for Ketu South, Abla Dzifa Gomashie was among those who turned up early at the border post to see things at first-hand.

In an interview, she expressed gratitude to the leaders of the two countries for listening to cries of their people.

“And in Ketu South, we hope this will restore our livelihoods which invariably is cross-border commerce,” said Ms. Gomashie.

Togo opens land border with Ghana

The lawmaker entreated people crossing the border to hold valid identities and proof of vaccination against COVID-19, and also be law-abiding in the area all the time.

Meanwhile, at the Kpoglu-Segbe Border Post, nine Ghanaians had crossed into Togo while four of their compatriots crossed from Togo into Ghana as of 11:06am.

The border post was very quiet when Graphic Online visited there.

News

Rising inflation is a surprise to us, we’ll deal with it decisively – Governor

Dr. Ernest Addison

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, has described the rising inflation rate of nearly 24% as a complicated matter that will be dealt with decisively in the ongoing Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting that began today, May 18th, 2022.

In most scenarios, the Policy Rate – the rate at which commercial banks borrow from the Bank of Ghana – is higher than the inflation rate, but that will not be the case this time around.

Speaking to Bloomberg, the Governor said the rising inflation is a surprise to his team, but will take a major decision to address the issue.

“It’s an issue which in a sense is baffling to all of us. A year ago, inflation in Ghana was near single digit, particularly we were at 7.5% and then we find ourselves a year later in high double digits. It’s a very complicated environment, as you yourself you are aware we have come out of COVID-19. But Ghana fortunately was able to weather the impact of COVD well without recording high interest rates.”

“And is seem as if the economy has pick up significantly with a positive growth rate of 5.4%. At the Central Bank, we have anticipated this. In November last year, we raised the policy rate by 100 basis points [2.0%], and then we were rather surprised by the inflation rate which came out later on. After that in February [2022] in particular which triggered the 250 basis points [2.5%] adjustment in the policy rate”, he explained

Continuing, Dr. Addison said “this week, the MPC will be meeting, I do not want to preempt what the Committee will decide but I think is a very complicated issue. As we said inflation is nearly 24%, we need to take a position on what to do with the current policy rate at 17%”.

On stabilizing the economy, the Governor said his outfit has had limited set of instruments to manage liquidity and interest rate.

However, he believes, it has done well to support government to manage situation.

“The role of the Central Bank in stabilising has been very clear. I mean we have limited set of instrument trying to manage liquidity and trying to manage interest rates; and that is what we have done in the last year or so.”

“As you heard, we have to be conscious of the impact of both external developments and internal developments on exchange rate. And if market get tighter and we see capital beginning to flow out, obviously, interest rates instruments will have to do part of the work”, he added.

News

GCB Ladies supports Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital and Sunyani Girl Child Education

GCB Bank Ladies Association has supported the Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital in the Greater Accra Region and the Sunyani Girl Child Education with GH¢10,000.00 and some assorted items.

The complimentary items included sanitary towels, detergents, and tissues to aid the hospital in the control of infections and assist the adolescent girl child to improve menstrual hygiene.

The presentation was after a health walk organized by the Association on the theme, “Dominating the Digital Space: The Role of GCB Ladies.”

Starting from the Ayi Mensah toll booth and ending at Tavern Lodge in Peduase, fitness aerobics and cardio workouts engaged all participants who were cheered on by live band music amid invigorating songs and chants.

GCB Ladies supports Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital and Sunyani Girl Child Education

The donation and health walk were part of activities to mark this years’ International Women’s and Mother’s Day by the GCB Ladies Association.

President of GCB Ladies Association, Gertrude Sangber-Dery, encouraged ladies in the banking sector to embrace the Bank’s digitization drive up and embrace the new customer centric-vibe of GCB Bank PLC.

Head of Corporate Affairs of GCB Bank, Kojo Kwarteng,answering question on the impact of the Electronic Levy (E-Levy) said GCB as a bank with national heritage would support national agenda.

“GCB as a Bank staff have undergone all the relevant training for a successful adoption and tactful execution of the levy,” he said.

Nursing Officer at Princess Marie Louise Children’s Hospital, Samuel Nkrumah Asamoah who received the donation, said the items would reduce the pressure on management.

“The donation has come at the right time and is going to go a long way in this era of Covid-19 where the uses of tissue and detergent have become so important in health facilities because a lot of people have bought into the idea of relying on it,” he said.

He said the cash donation would also go into the needy accounts of the Hospital and patients who were unable to pay their bills or buy medication would be assessed by the clinical division and subsequently become needy fund beneficiaries.

Mr. Asamoah commended the Association and the Bank for the gesture and assured that the donation would serve its intended purpose.

A Health and Wellness Lifestyle Coach, Bambie Bamfo-Sam urged Ghanaians to keep an active life because it prevented life-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

“Do a physical activity that you like doing best, if it’s dancing, dance intentionally and consistently, walk, go to the gym, swim and do not forget to eat well too. Fitness is just a part of wellness so once you get fit, the other part of wellness is taken care of halfway,” she said.

News

Kumasi South Hospital receives items to support Eid celebration

E-commerce based Direct Selling giant, QNET, is marking the auspicious festival of Eid-al-Fitr by donating food items, groceries, assorted drinks and toiletries to the Kumasi South Hospital in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

The donation is made by QNET as part of its annual Ramadan charity initiative to honour the holy month of fasting, an important time for millions of Muslims around the world who mark this period with prayer, reflection, charity, and a communal sense of belonging.

“For many years now, QNET has been organising a global giving initiative to communities in need to mark Ramadan and Eid, true to the spirit of our company’s mission, RYTHM – Raise Yourself To Help Mankind.  We are acutely aware of the inequalities that exist around the world and it is our commitment to the communities we do business in, to play in active role in addressing some of these issues. While we support several longer term community development projects through our corporate foundation, during this holy month, we take the opportunity to express our gratitude for what we have by sharing with those who are less fortunate,” Biram Fall, QNET Regional General Manager explained.

QNET’s mission of RYTHM, an acronym for ‘Raise Yourself To Help Mankind’, is the driving force of the company’s focus on empowering people and communities, so that they have the ability to uplift themselves and make a difference.

Last year, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, QNET donated large 47.2 KG Oxygen Cylinders, Medical Regulators, Wheelchairs, and crutches to the Ghana Police Hospital at Cantonment in Accra and to the Komfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi. These medical equipment and items helped the hospital cater to the healthcare of patients during a critical time.

Also in the past, QNET supported multiple community programs and organisations and extended aid to the vulnerable, carried out relief projects, donated food items, personal protective gears, provided multiple units of its flagship HomePure air purifier and water purification products to hospitals and medical stations among other socially responsible initiatives and projects.

Receiving the donation on behalf of the Hospital, Mr. Gyamfi Yeboah, Chief Administrator for the Kumasi South Hospital, thanked QNET and promised the items would be put to good use.

QNET’s grass-roots business model fuelled by the power of e-commerce has helped empower millions of entrepreneurs in more than 100 countries worldwide.

“As a global company with nearly a thousand employees and millions of customers in approximately 100 countries, QNET is committed to being a purpose-driven company that is driving change in the lives of our people, our communities, and the planet.” Mr. Fall concluded.