The savannahs of Africa cover a mind-boggling 600 million hectares, of which 400 million hectares are cultivable, the President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has said.

But just 10 percent of this is cultivated, a mere 40 million hectares, Adesina said Wednesday, while speaking at a session titled “Transformation of the African Savannah Initiative” at the 2017 World Food Prize-Borlaug Dialogue symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.

According to the AfDB President, so huge is the potential of African savannahs that the World Bank called the Guinea savanna zone “one of the major underutilised resources in Africa.”

He noted that Africa’s savannahs were better than the savannahs of Brazil, a country notable for turning its savannahs into agricultural wealth, saying Africa’s soils were not acidic and therefore did not need liming which had to be done at massive scales in Brazil.

“The initiative will start by bringing approximately two million hectares of savannah in eight African countries — Ghana, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique under the cultivation of maize, soybean, and livestock production in optimum conditions.”
The goal: to double production in those eight countries.

“Africa must learn from the experiences that have worked elsewhere, while tailoring the interventions to the specific realities of Africa. We must ensure that small, medium-scale and large-scale commercial farmers co-exist in a way that allows opportunities for all,” Adesina said.

The 2017 World Food Prize Laureate explained that partnerships in research and development would be crucial, saying that was why the AfDB had engaged to work with the strongest possible organisations with proven track records in tropical agriculture from South America.

Some of them, he said, included the Brazilian Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), the Agricultural Corporation of Brazil (CAMPO), as well as others with long experience in conservation agriculture, including the Argentine Association of Zero-tillage (AAPRESID), and the Argentine Agricultural Research Institute.

“They will work very closely with universities and the national agricultural research systems across the savannahs of Africa,” he noted.

The AfDB Vice-President of Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Jennifer Blanke, also explained that the Bank was determined to increase productivity so that Africa would become a net producer and exporter of agricultural produce.

Blanke said, “The idea is to have more job creation and create the next generation of agripreneurs. We can’t do everything. So, we’ve broken it down to certain number of value chains that we are going to tackle in Africa.

“If you look at the savannah, it has massive potential. In fact, it spans about 400 million hectares and only about 10 percent of it is utilised. It covers about 25 countries and about 240 million people are depending on agriculture in these areas and about half of them are living in poverty.”

The AfDB Vice-President highlighted that the savanna initiative, which begins in November, will use the best technology in order to transform the savanna based on the experience of Brazil.

Brazil has a history of building their own savannah, which is their cerrados, with these kinds of technologies, Blanke added.

“It was about driving farms that were producing a new variety of soya beans. It was very difficult and we know that, but amazing things happened,” she said.

The Former Minister of Agriculture of Brazil, Chairman of CAMPO and 1996 World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Alysson Paulinelli, in his address, noted that in the 1970s, Brazil was suffering a lot, like Africa today.

“Now, we are reaching Africa. And, on the request of the AfDB, we will start work in Ghana,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sagre Bambangi, underscored the biological, socioeconomic and political dimensions to consider.

According to Bambangi, the Government of Ghana initiated a campaign that ensures availability of food in the country, thereby creating job opportunities.

“We in Ghana are delighted to have been chosen to host the TASI pilot programme,” he said.


Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Gas Company, operators of the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant, Dr Ben Asante, has asked Ghanaians to be safety conscious when handling liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottles.
Addressing a news conference in Accra on Monday to debunk allegations by the Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Truck Drivers who claimed that gas from Atuabo has an unusual high propane content, which they attributed to the recent spate of gas explosions at filling stations in the country, he disputed claims that gas from Ghana Gas is not odorized, hence cannot be detected early when there is a leakage saying gases do not smell unless they are odorized.
“Ghanaians must adopt an attitudinal change when it comes to LPG - from those who handle and store it as well as those who use it to cook; we should stop pointing fingers at others, or engage in the blame game as we will be missing the point, the way forward is how well we handle LPG bottles across the entire value chain,” he added.
He explained that gas from the Atuabo plant meets, both, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and international requirements and therefore does not pose any risk as a commodity to anyone. The GSA and the NPA requirement which is 9 bars, we do 7.5 bars while the imported ones do 5.5 bars
The CEO reiterated that LPG cannot be equated to petrol pointing out that it is not unusual to have a petrol station situated in a community but one must be extra careful if you have a gas station attached; you must have extra layers of protection because of its (gas) deceptive and volatile property, he said.
He said “I don’t buy the idea that because Ghana Gas has got a vapour pressure of 7.5 bars, so all our hoses are being damaged. It is easier to change that hose than to say we are not going to get our own indigenous gas. It is misleading for a section of the public to blame the Atomic Junction, Madina, Accra gas explosion on Ghana Gas just because it has a pressure of 7.5 bars.
“It is instructive to note that some of the accidents that happened at the discharge facilities actually didn’t have gas coming from Ghana Gas. These are low pressure gas coming from elsewhere,” he stated.
Going forward, he said, the regulators need to also enforce standards across the entire value chain and there is the need to have a periodic safety audit, at the stations and also at the facilities that produced and handle LPG, certainly at the discharge stations, he concluded.

By Salifu Kassum

Unilever Ghana Limited has, through its Lifebuoy Soap, commemorated this year’s Global Handwashing Day with a handwashing festival at the Independence Square in Accra.

Each year, Lifebuoy commemorates the day, which is observed on 15th October, by calling on people to inculcate the habit of washing hands with soap under running water. Dubbed “High5 for handwashing- Give us a high5 and we’ll teach 5 kids handwashing”, the objective of the handwashing festival was to teach one million children in the country, the proper way of washing hands.

It was also aimed at heightening awareness about Lifebuoy’s commitment to handwashing with soap under running water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, after visiting the toilet and during daily bath to help children reach the age of 5.

In his welcome remarks, the Managing Director of Unilever Ghana Limited, Mr. Yeo Ziobeieton said the company finds it worrying that although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. “Even when soap is available, it is sometimes reserved for laundry and bathing instead of for handwashing. Washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively than doing so with only water”, he emphasized.

Lifebuoy has over the years raised social consciousness in relation to adopting hygienic behaviours that promote human sustainability. Mr. Ziobeieton therefore encouraged Ghanaians to share their High5s with Lifebuoy using #high5forhandwashingGh.

The Managing Director of Unilever Ghana also said the company is going beyond teaching Ghanaians how to wash their hands; “the Unilever Ghana Foundation, recently handed over seven newly constructed hygiene stations to selected basic schools within the Tema metropolis at a total cost of GHC800,000. It is estimated that over 3,800 pupils and an additional 6,500 community members would benefit from the facilities. This is another initiative by Unilever to help enhance sanitation and hygiene needs of Ghanaians”, Mr. Ziobeieton said.

The First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo who was the Guest of Honour noted that the significance of children’s hands to their health and for that matter their future cannot be overemphasized. ‘Children use their hands to pick, lift, touch, hold, smear and fix things. In the process, their hands come into contact with all manner of germs, which can be dangerous to their health if ingested”, she said. She used the occasion to dispel the long held belief that African germs don’t kill saying, “a visit to our CHPS compounds, health centers, clinics and hospitals gives an indication of the health implications of ignorantly swallowing that seemingly harmless dirt on a child’s hands”.

Mrs. Akufo-Addo emphasized that handwashing with soap is a “do it yourself vaccine” that prevents infections and saves lives and urged all Ghanaians to make it a habit.

The event brought together about 2500 children and dignitaries from the Ministries of Education, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as Water Resources and Sanitation. It was also used to set two Guinness World Records on handwashing with soap.

The Abrantie College of Cosmetology and Creative Arts have formally launched its Foundation in Accra.
The launch of the Foundation, which coincides with the 10th anniversary celebration of the school, was aimed at stabilizing the operational abilities of the school.
“The Director of the school, per this arrangement would contribute 10 percent of his salary to the foundation; the managers will contribute five percent while the teaching and non-teaching staff will contribute one percent each of their salaries to the foundation to support brilliant but needy students”, King David Thompson, Director of the College has said.
The Foundation, he noted has already supported 10 students at its formal launch to consolidate its goodwill.
“Abrantie College is Ghana’s foremost fashion and cosmetology school with a long and distinguished history dating back to 2007. The school started as a clinic then to a college and we want to do more for the youth”, he added.
The school has been able to achieve much and moved further by creating a niche.
The college he said has introduced the School of Fashion, which has brought about the modeling classes, arts and design as part of hair and beauty programmes.
“The college is now registered with COTVET to run on CBT. The college has trained over 6000 students in 2 year full time program and over 2000 on short course.
As the Director of the College, I am truly grateful to everyone who volunteered more especially my sponsors for buying into our dream” he said.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe

Government’s commitment to change the outlook of the Ghanaian economy from an essentially informal to a formal one received another boost with the launch of the second of the threefold formalization initiative.
Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, earlier in the year, announced the three pillars - Financial Inclusion; National Identification and Digital Property Addressing System as “the necessary backbone for a formal economy”, at the 5th Economic Outlook and Business Strategy Conference in Accra.
The first pillar, the National Identification System was launched by the President Akufo-Addo on September 15, 2017, as he became the first recipient of the new Ghana Card.
A month after the launch of the first pillar, government has launched yet another - the National Digital Property Addressing System (NDPAS) which is said to provide a unique address through an application that ensures that all locations, properties in the country are addressed in a database.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo, restated government’s commitment to ensure that business operations in the country will ease up with the introduction of the NDPAS.
“I am thrilled to introduce and experience the beginning of a new era that will change the way we do business in Ghana. We are launching a solution to our addressing and location problems and I would like to use this opportunity to urge the Ghana Post and the Ministry of Communications to leverage on this technology to enhance its operations,’’ he added.
The roll out of the NDPAS is expected to create a database, an avenue for new businesses, and the collection of revenue by service providers like the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Water Company, and Local Government agencies while it will do away with the conventional way Ghanaians are known for, in accessing locations and addresses which have hampered the delivery of emergency services to the populace.
The President further explained, ‘’our security and law enforcement agencies can now access data in the combating and prevention of crimes in the country, and this will also serve as a huge boost to our health and safety sectors in identifying locations and responding to calls effectively to save lives.’’
The President was positive the new addressing system will also promote the livelihoods and safety of every Ghanaian as it eliminates the culture of relying on directions and locations from people.
The addressing system, code-named the GhanaPost GPS, was designed by an indigenous information technology firm Vokacom, that will provide an effective means of addressing locations during the registration period of the National Identification Card.
The GhanaPost GPS application could be accessed on all mobile phones, computers and tablets and also available on all Android and IOS devices.

By Mawuli Yao Ahorlumegah

The government has begun a road show for the energy sector bond. The show commenced in London on Thursday, October 19, 2017 and there will be another in Accra on October 23, 2017.
An independent special purpose company established and sponsored by the Republic of Ghana acting through the Ministry of Finance, E.S.L.A. Plc, has appointed Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Limited and Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited to arrange a series of fixed-income investor meetings in London and Accra.
Co-managers on the mandate are Temple Investments and GCB Bank. The US$2.5 billion bond will be used to offset the US$2.4 billion in the energy sector debt which nearly led to the collapse of some banks in the country.
The bond, which will be auctioned in tranches will start with a first tranche of GHS6 billion, which translates to about US$1.3 billion.
Processes towards the issuance of the bond was expected to begin in September but government faced some approval challenges.
A high powered government delegation has therefore begun a road show to entice investors to purchase the bond.

Management of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has introduced a paperless bill payment system, aimed at improving customer service while phasing out paper bills and receipts by December 2017.
The company’s paperless regime structure includes an electronic billing system, an electronic payment platform and customer software application among others.
Launching the initiative in Accra on Tuesday, Managing Director of GWCL, Dr. Clifford Braimah, said a Technology and Innovation Department has been created for the first time in the company’s history to leverage and expand the impact of shared management information.
“Customers and our regulators alike, are expecting more from us; they expect the GWCL to offer services using smartphones and tablets to request services, submit complaints, pay bills, manage accounts and review user information, that is what we are offering” he said.
Dr. Braimah noted that the monotonous system of operations, which prevents successful adoption of new technologies at the GWCL, has come to an end.
“We’ll no longer move at a pace that will result in the creation of a technological gap. As we move towards a more progressive trajectory of a new technologically inclined system, we call on Ghanaians to support the system” he implored.
He indicated that the company is in the process of implementing a telemetry system on its water network to allow for remote detection of faults, bursts and quality of water delivery.
Dr. Braimah was upbeat that the engagement of commercial banks including Ecobank, UMB, GCB, Access Bank, and Bank of Africa as points of payment, as well as through mobile money on MTN, Tigo and Vodafone, would enhance GWCL bill collection drive.
But the Sanitation and Water Resources Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, lamented the company’s debt and said the initiative to a large extent would curb the millions of debt that saddles the GWCL.
“The GWCL is owed GHS 846 million, of which 42 percent of debtors are domestic users and 58 percent MMDAs, and that does not paint a good picture for the success of the company” he averred.
He noted that the GWCL is the second institution to take the bold initiative to transact a paperless payment system, an initiative he described as having the potential to create wealth for the company.
“It is my hope that the company will help eliminate all the corrupt practices which have confronted it before the introduction of this system” he noted.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe

About only 30 percent of vehicles on the roads have insurance cover, the National Insurance Commission (NIC) has disclosed.
The remaining almost 70 percent either have fake insurance stickers or are not insured at all.
The NIC has attributed the situation to low public awareness and low confidence in the insurance industry.
“The perception that Ghanaians have, about insurance, is not very positive. And the main reason for this is how claims are handled. It is perceived that legitimate claims are denied or payments of claims are delayed” said the NIC’s Commissioner General, Justice Yaw Ofori.
The Commission has therefore intensified its efforts to reverse the trend.
Speaking at the first National General Insurance Conference, in Accra, Ofori urged the stakeholders in the insurance industry to support his outfit with the necessary resources to achieve their aim.
“We have set up an insurance awareness group and the success of this group depends on us all. Improving public perception on insurance cover is good for all of us and one of the best ways of achieving this is through customer education,” he stated.
The NIC is also working with the police on monitoring the system of insuring vehicles to avoid illegal vehicle insurance policies and to detect fake insurance stickers.
But the Ghana Insurers Association (GIA) has debunked claims suggesting that companies deliberately delay or refuse to pay legitimate claims.
President of the Association, Aretha Duku in an interview said over GHS 332 million cedis paid in the wake of the flooding in June 2015, alone, is a testimony that members are committed to the payment of claims.
“Insurance companies are in the business to pay claims, we only have to educate the public more on the cover they purchase and the limitations of the cover. It is usually a lack of understanding of the cover they have bought. So we will educate customers to improve that service.
Meanwhile insurance penetration in the country stands at two percent with only 20 percent of Ghanaians having one insurance policy cover or the other.
That notwithstanding, there are currently over 40 insurance companies in the country with over 60 brokers and agents.
The insurance industry is now worth GHS1.5 billion which makes it a significant sector in the country.
The Ghana Insurers Association is also set to have discussions with the NIC to implore the regulator to develop capital modules that can be used by the companies to assess requisite capital based on the nature of their operations.
“We don’t want an idle or a single capital for all companies, companies should be assessed based on the level of risk they assume to prevent excessive capital,” Duku explained.

By Nana Oye Ankrah

The Office of the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) has formally inaugurated an electronic registrar portal to issue electronic certificates to clients and to facilitate ease of doing business.
The electronic certificates, according to the department, will reduce registration time and offer opportunities to save costs.
The portal also provides clients the opportunity to transact businesses online, offering commercial and company registration, marriage registration, estate administration and payments.
Addressing dignitaries at the launch, The Registrar General at the RGD, Mrs. Jemima Oware, said the introduction of the portal has become necessary due to the need to create an environment for faster business operations.
“The department used to operate a purely manual registration system, which was bedeviled with delays and inefficiencies. From 2005, we introduced ICT into our operations for a major decentralization drive to bring services closer to customers. Through that initiative, we currently have additional offices in Kumasi, Takoradi and an upcoming office in Sunyani” she noted.
She observed that, customers can now conduct searches, book appointment for registration of marriages, schedule meetings; file amendment for registration documents online and also obtain their electronic certificates online.
“And that is a move to reduce the human interface, stress and corruption from the registration processes of businesses at the department” she averred.
Mrs. Oware, asked organisations to accept the e-certificates when it is presented for business purposes, adding: “when in doubt of the e-certificate’s authenticity, the RGD could be contacted to confirm the validity of those electronic certificates. It carries the same weight as the hard copy certificates, which would be phased out by end of 2018.”
She noted that despite the portal being operational for some time now, stakeholders still patronize the services of ‘goro boys’.
“Since the inception of the portal in 2015, we have had only 12, 944 registrations via the portal as against 168,995 clients who came to register manually; that is not encouraging for the new system” she explained.
Executive Chairman of the Ghana Community Networks (GCnet) Dr. Nortey Omaboe, partners of the initiative, expressed optimism at the success of the innovation.
He said the technology landscape has been experiencing dramatic changes and it was necessary that Ghana as a country tags along that technological agenda.
“We are ready to provide our expertise in other sectors to ensure that ICT is fully integrated into our system of doing things” Omaboe noted.

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who was the guest of honour at the event, said government’s vision is to make the country the foremost business friendly nation on the continent.
He noted that, the launch of the e-portal and certificate system would consolidate and support the national addressing system, which would be vital in business registration.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe

Villa Monticello, Ghana’s premier luxury boutique hotel was crowned Ghana’s Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards (WTA) red carpet African Gala ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda on 10th October, 2017. Villa Monticello was also recognized at the ceremony as Ghana’s Leading Boutique Hotel and Ghana’s Leading Hotel Suite for its Kwame Nkrumah Presidential Suite.

Since its inception in 2011, the Accra based hotel has won a total of six coveted World Travel Awards. The World Travel Awards acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all sectors of the global tourism industry. WTA winners were selected by online ballot entries between March and August 2017.

Villa Monticello’s General Manager, Tapfuma (Taps) Shinya, and Guest Relations Manager, Matilda Mikekpor joined hospitality leaders from across the continent to accept the three WTA trophies at the African Gala, which was hosted by CNBC Africa presenter and producer, George Ndirangu, and Rwandan DJ and media personality, Makeda Mahadeo.
“Since our launch in 2011 as Ghana’s first luxury boutique hotel, it has been a distinct honor for Villa Monticello to be recognized by World Travel Awards, an entity which celebrates travel and hospitality organisations around the world who push the boundaries of industry excellence. These awards are truly a reflection of our team’s culture, commitment, dedication and vision in setting exceptional standards in hospitality excellence in Ghana and the West African region,” shares Tapfuma Shinya who has over 20 years in the African hospitality industry with leadership positions at The Stanley & Livingstone Hotel and Game Reserve (Zimbabwe), Humula Beach Resort & Spa (Mozambique) and Cresta Hospitality (Zimbabwe/Botswana/South Africa/Namibia).

“Each year, we seek to improve the quality of our staff training, customer experience and updates to the design and interiors of our suites and meetings rooms. This year we have introduced amenities such as a new Brasserie, VM’s Finest Things Gift Shop, complimentary mini-bars in all suites, and Rapport Catering, our event catering unit. We believe our efforts were well received by clients, which resulted in the overwhelming public support for Villa Monticello during the WTA voting process.” adds Tapfuma Shinya.

Villa Monticello joins other pan-African industry leaders including Avis (Africa’s Leading Business Car Rental), Kenya Airways (Africa’s Leading Airline and Africa's Leading Airline - Business Class), Cape Town International Airport as 2017 WTA winners who will advance to compete in the World Travel Awards Grand Final this year taking place in Vietnam on 10th December.