April 2017


London Tech Week to Shine Spotlight on African Startups

The Africa Technology Business Network’s annual pitch competition Africa Tech Pitch LDN will be featured in London Tech Week 2017. Now in its third year, Africa Tech Pitch LDN provides an opportunity for Africa-focused tech startups to showcase their solutions to the London tech ecosystem. It spotlights high-impact, high-growth startups that are using technology to unlock untapped opportunities and address a real need in the African market.

In a bid to include startups who are unable to travel to London, this year’s search will be held as a three-minute video pitch competition allowing Africa-based innovators to submit their entries online for the first time.

A panel of industry judges will select five top startups to be highlighted and screened during London Tech Week (12th-16th June) at an exclusive reception hosted by TLA Africa, part of the Tech London Advocates – a coalition of over 4300 tech leaders, experts and investors in London.

The final tech pitch winner will be announced at the Africa Technology Business Forum in London on 21st June 2017 before an audience of innovators and investors from across Europe and Africa.

Startups can apply until 31st May – http://www.atbnforum.com/startup-showcase

A Servant of Rhythm From Ghana, in Texas

On the morning of the 20th annual African Cultural Festival at the University of North Texas here, Torgbui Midawo Gideon Foli Alorwoyie, the festival’s founder, was doing last-minute errands. There were drums to gather, programs to pick up from the printer, costumes to procure. For these annual events, he is his own promoter, his own publicist, his own street team.

“I do everything myself,” he explained from the driver’s seat of his minivan. Deep blue scars on his cheeks — marking him as a Midawo, or high priest, of the Ewe cult of Ghana’s Volta region — bent as he glanced between two different cellphones. A thick chain with a gold medallion in the shape of Africa glinted on his chest.

Mr. Alorwoyie leading a rehearsal at the University of North Texas in April. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Mr. Alorwoyie (pronounced al-or-WO-yee), 71, is a rarity in American academia: a master drummer from Africa who is a tenured professor of African drumming and dance, disciplines that are difficult to categorize within Western musical theory. And in his own country, he is one of the few musicians working arduously to pass on traditions in danger of disappearing.

Mr. Alorwoyie also carries the title of Torgbui, or paramount chief, in his region of Ghana, responsible for administrative decisions and rulings on certain judgments; an herbalist (a large bottle of gin at his home, stuffed with long roots, was repeatedly offered to a visitor for its healing properties); and a stern taskmaster to his performers and students.

He has a key link to the evolution of American Minimalism: In 1970, the composer Steve Reich traveled to Ghana and studied with Mr. Alorwoyie for a month. “Drumming,” Mr. Reich’s groundbreaking piece for nine percussionists, was written after his trip.

At several rehearsals on the University of North Texas campus earlier this month, Mr. Alorwoyie guided a student drumming and dance ensemble that, for the festival concert, would be accompanied by five Ghanaian percussionists as well as Mr. Alorwoyie’s wife, Memunatu, 46, a former principal dancer in the Ghana Dance Ensemble in Accra; several former students who regularly return to dance at his events; and their daughter, Gloria, 11, who has been under her mother’s tutelage since birth.

Lither and quicker than many men half his age, Mr. Alorwoyie exuded a fierce calm during rehearsals. For many rhythms, he stood next to the atsimevu, a massive drum played with sticks. Tapping against its hull to establish a beat, Mr. Alorwoyie called drummers and dancers into action, activating changes in the patterns and movements with nods or shifts in expression. When not playing, he paced like a general, hands on his hips.

Some Ewe rhythms have a slippery, collapsing quality, an amorphous relationship to any easily recognizable downbeat. Mr. Alorwoyie’s lead patterns directed the dancers, but when another

Memunatu Gariba Alorwoyie, the former principal dancer of the Ghana Dance Ensemble, during a rehearsal with the University of North Texas student ensemble. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

drummer took over the atsimevu, Mr. Alorwoyie stepped into a dance with his wife; their playful steps around each other were like marital shadowboxing. As complex as the rhythmic patterns are, they go hand-in-hand with movement and song — the dancers and drummers serve one another.

“African music is not something you just listen to,” Mr. Alorwoyie said in an interview in his office, its walls covered in awards, degrees and newspaper articles about him dating back decades. “The answer is the dance.”

Mr. Alorwoyie left Ghana in 1976 and took a position as a visiting lecturer at SUNY College at Brockport. After stints at the American Conservatory of Music and the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, he joined the North Texas faculty in 1996. The School of Music there is one of the nation’s largest, with an extensive percussion program. According to John Scott, the chair of the search committee that hired him, Mr. Alorwoyie is the first — and still the only — tenured African drummer at an American university.

“The first year he was here, all of a sudden he says he needs money to buy cloth to make clothes for the ensemble, so they look like an African ensemble,” Mr. Scott said. “‘O.K., where are we going come up in the budget with clothes money for an ensemble?’ But you manage to do it.”

The rhythms Mr. Alorwoyie plays and teaches belong to a language that has been stored in generations of memory, rarely recorded or preserved. Ewe songs are forms of communication; in some cases, phrases like “the lion is coming” are reinterpreted as drum patterns, part of an alarm system that existed among villages. (Some songs, Mr. Alorwoyie says, routinely contained criticism of different families in a community.) Without a written history, traditional Ghanaian drumming (of which there are thousands of tiny variations) is part of a family of African song forms that don’t fit easily into Western pedagogical models.

Mr. Alorwoyie with the atsimevu, a tall drum that is used as a lead instrument in many Ghanaian songs and rhythms. Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

“There was a time when ethnomusicology was in some places not really integrated into music programs,” Mr. Scott said. “It was sort of the bottom of the pecking order; there’s a whole strata of musicians who looked down on ethnomusicology and ethnic music: ‘Oh, we don’t want to deal with this, it’s not art music.’ Just like the people who looked down on jazz and said, ‘This is not real music.’”

Kobla Ladzekpo, who taught for 38 years at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Abraham Adzenyah, who was at Wesleyan University for 46, are both master drummers from Ghana who enjoyed strong support from their academic communities, but neither ever had a title above adjunct professor.

“African traditional performance arts have no conventional place in higher education schools of music or music conservatories,” said David Locke, the chair of the music department at Tufts University, who has known Mr. Alorwoyie for four decades and collaborated with him on a research project on the Ewe drum language that resulted in a 2013 book. “I wouldn’t necessarily think that bias is actually capturing that, it’s more of a historical condition that seems to make natural sense. On the other hand, there is a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding of African arts and performance arts and African ways of life.”

Without a notational system, the rhythms must be passed directly from generation to generation.

“There’s not a classroom that’s going to teach you,” Mr. Alorwoyie said. “In the villages and towns and cottages, you’re not going to see nobody teaching nobody how to drum.”

He and the performers he brought to Denton for the festival are part of the group trying to transmit this fragile knowledge. “It’s here,” said Godwin Abotsi, 37, a Ghanaian drummer and dancer who lives in Fort Collins, Colo., pointing to his head.

In December, Mr. Alorwoyie and several of his students traveled to New York for a performance of “Drumming” with the ensemble Mantra Percussion at National Sawdust, presented by World

Mr. Alorwoyie, center, dancing at National Sawdust in December 2016. Credit Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

Music Institute. The Ghanaian ensemble presented traditional compositions and dances, alternating with Mantra’s performances of works by Mr. Reich. For “Drumming,” the two groups played in tandem, with Mr. Reich’s piece fitting like a skin over a complex rhythmic skeleton led by Mr. Alorwoyie. The staggered bell pattern that anchors many Ghanaian rhythms became a beacon amid the phased bongo cycles of Mr. Reich’s composition — an indigenous form cradling a modern one. (Through a publicist, Mr. Reich declined to comment for this article.)

Even in Africa, the sacred songs and rhythms that Mr. Alorwoyie teaches are struggling, with the drummers and dancers of Ghana’s national ensemble earning salaries that barely sustain them. Hiplife, a form of popular music heavily influenced by reggae, has some strands of traditional drumming, but in general those traditions are not highly valued by younger people.

“It’s associated with the past, it’s associated with rural areas, you don’t make money from it,” Mr. Locke said of the traditional style. “You go to a funeral, and the D.J.s have their sound systems, and they’re blasting the music at very, very high volumes, and the traditional folk are playing their traditional drums right next to where the D.J.s are set up. It’s like the Industrial Revolution versus the preindustrial world.”

Mr. Alorwoyie Credit Allison V. Smith for The New York Times

Mr. Alorwoyie travels to Ghana several times a year to attend to affairs that concern his chieftaincy, but he also is attempting to pass his library of music on to people who can sustain it. Rather than update the old patterns, he said that at this point in his life, he must return to the rhythms he knows; history demands it.

“If I am trying to teach something else creatively,” he said, “I’m going to lose those very important messages.”

With this sense of reverence comes a teaching style in which anything less than what is expected is unacceptable. At a dress rehearsal for a festival performance, Mr. Alorwoyie gave a thorough dressing-down to both undergraduate students and veteran Ghanaian drummers.

“Why are you talking?” he asked sharply, after entering the backstage area and finding his dancers and drummers joking around at a moment when he wanted them to be entering for a procession.

The ensemble fell silent. Mr. Alorwoyie — who is said to have been born with his fists curled tightly, marking him for life as a servant of rhythm — led them onstage, his body bouncing lightly to the beat of the squeeze drum under his arm, his eyes fixed intensely upon his charges.

Article via The New York Times

Ghana, Kenya and Malawi to take part in WHO malaria vaccine pilot programme

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO/AFRO) announced today that Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will take part in a WHO-coordinated pilot implementation programme that will make the world’s first malaria vaccine available in selected areas, beginning in 2018.

The injectable vaccine, RTS,S, was developed to protect young children from the most deadly form of malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum. RTS,S will be assessed in the pilot programme as a complementary malaria control tool that could potentially be added to the core package of WHO-recommended measures for malaria prevention.

“The prospect of a malaria vaccine is great news. Information gathered in the pilot will help us make decisions on the wider use of this vaccine”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Combined with existing malaria interventions, such a vaccine would have the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in Africa,” she added.

Africa bears the greatest burden of malaria worldwide. Global efforts in the last 15 years have led to a 62 percent reduction in malaria deaths between 2000 and 2015, yet approximately 429,000 people died of the disease in 2015, the majority of them young children in Africa.

The WHO pilot programme will assess whether the vaccine’s protective effect in children aged 5 – 17 months old during Phase III testing can be replicated in real-life. Specifically, the pilot programme will assess the feasibility of delivering the required four doses of RTS,S, the vaccine’s potential role in reducing childhood deaths, and its safety in the context of routine use.

WHO recommendations and RTS,S

RTS,S was developed by GSK and is the first malaria vaccine to have successfully completed a Phase III clinical trial. The trial was conducted between 2009 and 2014 through a partnership involving GSK, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and a network of African research sites in seven African countries—including Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi.

RTS,S is also the first malaria vaccine to have obtained a positive scientific opinion from a stringent medicines regulatory authority, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which approved RTS,S in July 2015.

In October 2015, two independent WHO advisory groups, comprised of the world’s foremost experts on vaccines and malaria, recommended pilot implementation of RTS,S in three to five settings in sub-Saharan Africa. The recommendation came from the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization and the Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC), following a joint review of all available evidence on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The World Health Organization formally adopted the recommendation in January 2016.

Pilot implementation

The three countries were selected to participate in the pilot based on the following criteria: high coverage of long-lasting insecticidal-treated nets (LLINs); well-functioning malaria and immunisation programmes, a high malaria burden even after scale-up of LLINs, and participation in the Phase III RTS,S malaria vaccine trial. Each of the three countries will decide on the districts and regions to be included in the pilots. High malaria burden areas will be prioritized, as this is where the benefit of the vaccine is predicted to be highest. Information garnered from the pilot will help to inform later decisions about potential wider use of the vaccine.

The malaria vaccine will be administered via intramuscular injection and delivered through the routine national immunization programmes. WHO is working with the three countries to facilitate regulatory authorization of the vaccine for use in the pilots through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF). Regulatory support will also include measures to enable the appropriate safety monitoring of the vaccine and rigorous evaluation for eventual large scale use.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and UNITAID, are partnering to provide US$49.2 million for the first phase of the pilot programme (2017-2020) which will be complemented by in-kind contributions from WHO and GSK.

Articel via ReliefWeb

O.Y Releases Debut Single “KELEGBE”

Odunayo Odunayo popularly known as O.Y Productions is set to launch the countdown to his producer E.P with the release of  his debut single titled “KELEGBE”  off the yet to be named producer E.P.


O.Y who only relocated to Nigeria from the UK about 2 years ago is a versatile music producer, sound engineer and music teacher; He is currently tutoring a diverse set of people through his music school called O.Y Academy. Having worked with A-list artistes such as Olamide, Patoranking, Sudan, Ice Prince, Stonebwoy, Wande Coal and Iyanya amongst others and with a wealth of over 15 years’ experience learning and perfecting his craft; it’s time for O.Y to take his rightful place among the music greats.


“KELEGBE” is a term from a game played in the western part of Nigeria; this term is used to lay claims to whatever you want from other players whenever it’s your turn. “KELEGBE” is a prayerful song which sees O.Y laying claims to the good things of life with an influence of some backing traditional sound and intriguing strings; written and performed by the man himself KELEGBE is set to break bounds on the streets and in homes.

Listen to ‘Kelegbe’ below

Diaspora Homecoming Summit 2017

Me Firi Ghana through its youth charity Future of Ghana have been invited on the UK chapter of the global planning committee for Diaspora Homecoming Summit 2017 between the 5-8 July 2017 and we are pushing to ensure the diaspora and young Ghanaians are part of the conversation and aware of such a high level event.

This Summit is being organised in fulfilment of a manifesto pledge by H.E President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, to engage Ghanaians Living Abroad in the transformation of the political and socio-economic structure of Ghana.

The purpose of the Summit is to bring the Ghanaian Diaspora together to dialogue on how to achieve the President’s vision of active participation by Diasporans in the economic development of the country and to fully integrate them into the political processes.

The Summit also aims to attract the full participation of Ghanaians Living Abroad in Private Enterprise by bringing them together with local businesses.

The three day Summit is divided into three areas :

First Day: Entrepreneurial Ghana – Investment opportunities etc

Second Day : Human Resource Marketplace – Employment opportunities etc.

Third Day : Political Inclusion of the Ghanaian Diaspora – Ropal

Fourth Day : Factory Visit and Delegates Dinner

Keynote Speaker:
H.E PRESIDENT AKUFO ADDO, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA

OTHER SPEAKERS INCLUDE:
H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President.

Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

Mrs. Charlotte Osei, Chairperson – Electoral Commissioner

Other Ministers, Captains of Industry and Banking.

Leading and Successful Ghanaians Living Abroad and Returnees

The conference itself is FREE. You would only need to pay for breakfast and lunch.

KLM/Air France have come on board as the airline sponsor and offering 15% off flights for those attending conference. So anyone travelling to Ghana around this time can make use of this offer via – http://www.airfrance.fr/FR/fr/local/www_airfranceklm-globalmeetings_com.htm?eid=30718AF

To Register to attend this presitgious summit visit: www.ghanadiasporahs.org

Afrobeat star Sona releases new single ‘GINGER’

Ginger is the newly anticipated single from British-Nigerian Afrobeat musician Sona.

Following the release of his first single of the year, “Story” which was highly received, Sona has officially released the anticipated visuals to his single “Ginger” and as he says “he is ready to ginger”.

Sona released his debut single Summertime in 2013. Following on from this he then resurfaced with a treble release in early 2014 with singles Ijo Sona, No Wahala & Eyy Mama garnering over 2 million streams collectively. Sona also collaborated with Sneakbo on their song ‘Hurt Nobody’ which has almost 2million views.

He has since received massive airplay support from BBC 1Xtra, Capital Xtra and has also been recognized by BETKey UK and African based taste-makers have labelled Sona as a prospect to look out for in the year of 2017.

Check it out below!

Esther Afua Ocloo: Ghana’s inspiring businesswoman

Esther Afua Ocloo launched her entrepreneurial career as a teenager in the 1930s on less than a dollar.

She quickly became one of Ghana‘s leading entrepreneurs and a source of inspiration around the world. Yesterday, on what would had been her 98th birthday, Google dedicated to her a ‘doodle’ illustration.

In addition to her own business, she taught skills to other women and co-founded Women’s World Banking (WWB), a global micro-lending organisation.

On its website, the WWB microlending network says it lends to 16,4 million women around the world, managing a loans portfolio of over $9bn.  Known as “Auntie Ocloo”, Esther dedicated her life to helping others like her succeed.

“Women must know that the strongest power in the world is economic power,” she said in a speech in 1990. You cannot go and be begging to your husband for every little thing, but at the moment, that’s what the majority of our women do.”

How she started

As a high school graduate with only a few Ghanian shillings given to her by an aunt, she bought sugar, oranges and 12 jars to make marmalade jam. Ocloo sold them at a profit, despite the ridicule of her former classmates, who saw her as an “uneducated street vendor“.

Soon she won a contract to supply her high school with marmalade jam and orange juice, and later managed to secure a deal to provide the military with her goods. On the basis of that contract, she took out a bank loan. In 1942, she established a business under her maiden name, “Nkulenu”.

Ocloo then travelled to England to take a course in Food Science and Modern Processing Techniques at Bristol University. In 1953, determined to grow her business with her newly acquired knowledge in food processing and preservation, she returned to her homeland with a mission to help Ghana become self-sufficient.

Nkulenu Industries still makes orange marmalade today and exports indigenous food items to markets abroad. In 1962, the company relocated to its present location at Madina, a suburb of the capital city, Accra.

Award-winning leadership

Besides working on her thriving business, she also set up a programme to share her knowledge with other women who cook and sell products on the streets.

”You know what we found? We found that a woman selling rice and stew on the side of the street is making more money than most women in office jobs – but they are not taken seriously,” she said.

In 1990, she became the first woman to receive the Africa Prize for Leadership. She proposed alternative solutions to the problems of hunger, poverty and the distribution of wealth – championing the development of an indigenous economy based on agriculture. In 1999 interview  she said:

Our problem here in Ghana is that we have turned our back on agriculture. Over the past 40 years, since the beginning of compulsory education, we have been mimicking the West

Esther Afua Ocloo

“We are now producing youth with degrees who don’t want to work in the fields or have anything to do with agriculture.” She added.

Ocloo died in 2002 after suffering from pneumonia. At her state burial in Accra, former president John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor said: “She was a creator and we need many people of her calibre to build our nation”.

She was a real pillar… worthy of emulation in our efforts to build our nation. Her good works in the promotion of development in Ghana cannot be measured.

Former Ghanaian President Kufuor

Google also recently celebrated  Jamini RoyHassan Fathy, and Abdul Sattar Edhi with their own doodles.Yesterday would have been Esther Occlo’s 98th birthday. In her honour Google changed its homepage logo in the United States; Ghana; Peru; Argentina, Iceland; Portugal; Sweden; Australia; Greece; New Zealand; Ireland and the UK to a “doodle” – or illustration – of her empowering the women of Ghana.

Article via Aljazeera

YƐN ARA YƐ KASA NI: LEARNING TWI, FANTI, ITALIAN AND ENGLISH

I was speaking about languages the other day, and it was interesting to see how people approach language and the reason behind it. I said I speak four languages. Truth! But I can read and write only two of them – English and Italian. I can speak and understand Fanti and Twi, but there’s so much work to be done around them because I don’t understand all things – i.e. proverbs.
My knowledge of these languages has been subject to needs and circumstances beyond my control for the most part.

Take English for example, I learnt it because I needed it for university. When I got accepted to study in England, that was a necessary move. When it comes to Italian, I had to learn it because my parents moved me to Italy when I was 8 years old. I had to go to school and live there (against my will lol) so I had to learn it. Before the age of 9, Twi was the only language I spoke fluently. I started learning and understanding Fanti properly when I started living with my dad (he’s Fanti, he refuses to speak Twi lol). I’d speak to him in Twi and he’d respond in Fanti! Some people argue that Fanti and Twi are the same, but they are not, although they are both Akan languages. I often think about them as Spanish and Italian: they both come from Latin, but have evolved differently. If one speaks Italian, one can kinda figure out some Spanish and be alright.

I think from the age of 10 or 11, in my household we spoke all four languages interchangeably (I had a little English going because my parents spoke it to my sisters and I sometimes).

In all this learning, credit goes to my parents for making sure I did not lose our native language. I have friends whose parents chose to speak only Italian or English to them. Some parents were tapping into their children’s knowledge to learn the language themselves – i.e. Italian. I believe the intention was great, but the result not so much because some friends ended up losing the ability to speak and/or understand our native languages.

I definitely want to work more on my Akan – Twi in particular. There are concepts that can never be translated into a Western language, because Western philosophy and ontology are different from Akan ways of being; and I think, because language is the medium through which concepts and ideas are formed, one can never understand a culture fully, unless one knows the language. I think Twi sounds fun and hilarious, Fanti sounds sweet, maybe that’s why some Takoradi boys got girls for days but anyway I digress.

Interesting fact: I don’t know how to count numbers in Twi. I’m learning now.

By Benjamina E. Dadzie

GUBA AWARDS 2017 NOMINEES ANNOUNCED

The anticipated launch of the GUBA 2017 Awards took place on Monday the 10th of April 2017 at the Ghana High Commission in Highgate, London.

The launch which serves as a precursor to the official awards ceremony scheduled to take place on Saturday 3rd of June, 2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel, o2, London – served as an official declaration and announcement of the shortlisted nominees for the GUBA 2017 Awards.  

Voting for the nominees of the respective categories commences on Wednesday the 12th of April, 2017, via www.gubaawards.co.uk/voting/#.  Tickets for the awards are also available to purchase at www.gubaawards.co.uk

The final phase of elimination for the Made in Ghana, Professional of the Year and Charity of the Year categories takes place at midnight, on Thursday the 20th of April 2017.   Nominees for the aforementioned categories will be condensed to 4 nominees and announced at the GUBA Ghana Launch on the 21st of April, 2017 at the British High Commissioner’s residence.

Voting ends on the 30th of April 2017, with the winners being announced at the main event in London on Saturday 3rd June 2017. The categories and nominees for the GUBA Awards 2017 are as follows:

Animator of the Year Award

  • Comfort Arthur
  • Francis Y Brown
  • Cycil Jones Abban
  • Indigene Bros

Professional of the Year Award (Will be reduced to 4 Nominees on 20th April 2017)

  • Dr Nicholas Ossei-Gerning  – Medical Doctor
  • Joshua Siaw – Lawyer
  • Sheila Nortley  – Film Director
  • Myx Quest   – Entrepreneur
  • Samuel Boateng – Sales Professional

Charity of the Year Award (Will be reduced to 4 Nominees on 20th April 2017)

  • Actionplus Foundation (UK)
  • Wulugu Project
  • Creating New Beginnings
  • Nyarko Cleft Care
  • ATE Action Through Enterprise (ATE)

Ghanaian Alumni Award

  • Aburi Old Girls Association (AOGA)
  • Holy Child Past Students Association (HOPSA)
  • Opoku Ware Old Boys Association (AKATAKYIE)
  • Prempeh College Old Students’ Association (AMANFOO)

Made In Ghana Products Award (Will be reduced to 4 Nominees on 20th April 2017)

  • Skin Gourmet
  • Studio Badge
  • Chaste Clothing
  • Muange Clothing and Multimedia
  • Selina Beb
  • Peini Skin Care
  • Booomers International Ltd
  • Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative
  • We Naturals
  • SeKaf Ghana Ltd (Tama Beauty & Hair Nature)  
  • The Sweet Art Company

Business Start Up of the Year Award

  • DFT Printing Studio
  • Bespoke Binny
  • Vitae London
  • Purete  Nature

Efie Ne Fie Award

  • Genevieve Puni – RecTrain Services Limited
  • Vanetta  & Vemilleon Ackah – Kiddie Garden Nursery International
  • Andrew Takyi- Appiah – Zeepay
  • Ruth Amoah – The Sweet Art Company

Upstanding members of the Ghanaian, UK and African community will also be honoured for their long standing contributions to the society – dubbed the ‘Black Awards’, their consistency and dedication to excellence, will be celebrated on the night. The prestigious black award nominees for 2017 are:

  • Madie Arkutu – Female Influential Leader
  • Apostle Dr. Kwadwo Safo  – Innovative Pioneer
  • Anas Aremeyaw Anas – Exceptional Journalist
  • Dr. Michael K. Obeng – Humanitarian Spirit
  • Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom – Excellence in Business,  Ghana
  • Mr & Mrs Mensah  – Enterprising Business Award
  • Dr. K. Oteng  – Outstanding Industrialist
  • Dr Kofi Amoa Abban – Young Oil & Gas Entrepreneur
  • Kelvin Doe – Young African Innovator
  • Dr Nii Dzani – Influential Economist
  • Jason Sarfo-Anning – Student Achiever of the Year

GUBA Awards seeks to celebrate exceptional talent and commitment to advancement within the Ghanaian and British community. The awards this year will be in honour of Ghana at 60 and GUBA Awards at 6.

Greed and corruption as corporate bodies and top executives in Ghana siphon off state funds

During the Atta Mills-Mahama led administration, there was massive back-log in non-payment of salaries of workers in Ghana. More than ten thousand nurses and teachers remained unpaid for more than two years. Doctors and pharmacists were also victims of non-payment of salaries. Many more workers are weeping for similar reasons. There is a problem of non-payments of monies meant for national health insurance scheme (NHIS) drug providers and also service providers and food suppliers for school feeding programme for so many years. Yet huge salaries paid to top executives each month get to their accounts without fail.

Indeed under the previous NDC government, a lot of financial wastage occurred in the system. Millions of Ghana cedis spilled like leaked oil and no action was taken by Mahama’s administration to retrieve these monies squandered by individuals and companies.

Former CEO of Cocobod Dr Opuni

Mahama’s government voted GHc1.8 billion to Cocobod to purchase 800 tons of cocoa beans. Dr Opuni, who was then the Chief Executive Officer, bought only 300 tons. He was never queried about what happened to the rest of the money until the NPP came to power. He was immediately relieved of his appointment and corruption charges were preferred against him. His dismissal led to a startling revelation of amazing salaries received by certain CEOs in Ghana. Some of these are more than three or four times the salary received by the President.

The CEO of Cocobod, Dr Opuni takes home a whopping amount of GHc77,000 which is 770 million old cedis monthly! This does not include allowances, free fuel supply and free accommodation. The CEO of Bank of Ghana earns GHc89,000 every month, allowances and other benefits excluded. Let us see the monthly salaries of other CEOs in other corporate organisations: the CEO of Ghana Revenue Authority takes home a cool GHc85,000 each month plus allowances and other benefits. The Boss of SSNIT is paid each month GHc76,000, while the Director and CEO of Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) pockets GHc85,000 as his monthly salary excluding allowance and other benefits. The boss of National Investment Bank (NIB), takes home GHc65,000 and the CEO of BOST receives GHc62,000. The list continues with the boss of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) also receiving GHc52000. The CEO of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) is paid “only” GHc55000. The list is just endless. These above-mentioned CEOs have top security men in their homes who are either policemen or staff from top security companies. They have three or four cars at their disposal. They have cooks, drivers, gardeners and cleaners. This group of people are paid by the companies. I believe you all agree with me that with such huge salaries allotted to top executives, it is not surprising that the government was unable to pay certain groups of workers like doctors, nurses, teachers and others who have not been paid for more than two years.

Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is a licensed distributor of petroleum related activities in Ghana. It is an agency responsible for the importation of crude oil and petroleum. When the GNPC was established to replace the Ministry of fuel and power, it was the objective of the government of Ghana to supply reliable and adequate supply of petroleum in Ghana and the discovery and exploration of crude oil in its territories. GNPC grew steadily in the area of oil production. However, after five years of the corporation’s existence, there was vast misuse of Ghana’s oil revenue on a large scale. There was complete absence of transparency and accountability in awarding oil blocks among others and denying Ghanaians the full use of the oil resource. A big chunk of the money accruing lands in the pockets of top executives. The top executives turned GNPC into a den of robbers, grabbing whatever money that came handy. Consequently, the chief executive of the corporation was arrested and tried at the fast track court on three counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state to the tune of GH¢230,000 which he, on behalf of PNDC guaranteed a loan for Valley Farms a private company, and one count of misapplying public funds. He is said to have misappropriated GHc2million of GNPC funds to buy shares in Valley Farms. He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to five years in prison.

Greed and corruption by the board of trustees at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) have put the future of both formal and informal workers in jeopardy. According to the Association of Accountable Governance (AFAG), they foresee a bleak and miserable pension benefit for retirees. This is because the current board of trustees of SSNIT have sold and are aggressively selling off what is left of their investments. Where a chunk of the money will go is anybody’s guess.

Not long ago, workers shares in First Atlantic and Merchant banks were sold. The Trust hospital was sold and SSNIT Guest house was also put for sale. It is a known fact that National Trust Holding Company (NTHC) is a company that has been blacklisted by 2007 auditor’s report as unfit to manage public funds. It is, however, very unfortunate and disheartening that SSNIT has sold the scheme of the informal sector to NTHC, a blacklisted company. AFAG organized the workers in a mammoth meeting to protest against the board at SSNIT who are selfish and self-seeking at the expense of workers livelihood.

Indeed greed and corruption among top executives and corporate bodies have condoned corruption for a very long time. Ghanaians are waiting to see if greed and corruption will persist under Nana Addo‘s government or be relegated to history. Bribery, over-invoicing, gargantuan salaries and sole-sourcing are difficult problems hanging on the heads of Ghanaian governments like the sword of Damocles. Those guilty of such greed and corruption includes DVLA, the Police and customs and passport office. Very often, monies paid at these places are not backed by receipts. This means such monies land in the pockets of the personnel. A survey conducted by Ghana Integrity and anti-corruption consortium confirmed the afore-mentioned bodies as worst off when it comes to bribery and corruption. DVLA and the passport office deliberately delay the issue of driver’s licenses and passports. They have created around the offices those they call, ”goro boys.” These boys are working for the top officials. A driver’s license that will take you three months or more to get is obtained for you within a day or two by a ”goro boy” at five times the normal cost. Guess who gets all these monies. The top officials, of course.

Will the surprise visit by Alhaji Mumuni Bawumia to the passport office help to reduce corruption? Is Nana Addo eager and fully prepared to fight greed and corruption? Is he willing to prosecute the corrupt officials of the past government? Nana Addo’s government is just three months old and I believe all he can achieve or do to get all stolen monies into state coffers lies within the womb of time.

By Stephen Atta Owusu
Author: Dark Faces at Crossroads