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MAIDIE ARKUTU IS THE GUBA 2017 FEMALE INFLUENTIAL LEADER

Maidie Arkutu, the Vice President of Unilever Francophone Africa, will receive the honour of being the recipient of the 2017 GUBA Black Star Award for Female Influential Leader, at the 2017 GUBA Awards. The awards is scheduled to take place on Saturday the 3rd of June 2017 at the Intercontinental Hotel, o2, London.

In its sixth year, The GUBA Awards seeks to celebrate the consistency, dedication to excellence and longstanding contributions to society with the GUBA Black Star Awards. The Female Influential Leader Award recognises the actions of individuals with progressive influence on women in business. It also shines a light on those who use their exceptional style in providing direction, implementing plans and motivating to affect the development and behaviour of others and to assist them to succeed.

Miss Arkutu is a multi-skilled professional marketer with an extensive business portfolio and monumental leadership experience to hand. She has a postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, as well as a MBA from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a BA in Business Economics from Vesalius College, Belgium.

Her ascent to the VP role at Unilever Francophone Africa was preceded by a successful three-year stint as Managing Director of Unilever Ghana. Before that MD role, she was the Marketing Director for Unilever West Africa, having joined the Unilver brand from Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Business Unit (ECABU) where she was the Marketing Manager for the Horn, Islands and Mid Africa sector (HIMA).

A born leader with significant influence, Maidie Arkutu has held various executive and non-executive board memberships at places such as Barclays Bank Ghana, and the African Business Centre for Developing Education, as well as the Lady Chairship/Executive Board Membership of the Executive Women Network (EWN).

The GUBA Black Star Award 2017 for Female Influential Leader will add to an already impressive collection of accolades received by Miss Arkutu, including the prestigious Marketing Woman of the Year 2015 (Chartered Institute of Marketing, Ghana) and Outstanding Manufacturing Executive, Personal Products 2016 (Feminine Ghana Achievement Awards).

This accolade is a result of her work in inspiring, supporting and empowering women executives to be internationally successful in the business world. The GUBA Awards 2017 is set to be a monumental event, tickets are available for purchase at www.gubaawards.co.uk/ticket/

GUBA 2017 SPONSORS – Title Sponsor: ECOM Ghana. Category Sponsors: uniBank Ghana, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Imperial Homes, ABN TV and Radio. CEO Dinner Sponsor: PayAngel.

Media Partners: ROK TV, VOX Africa TV, Starr Radio UK, Hot Digital Online FM, Rising Africa, Afropulp Magazine, The Voice Newspaper, Glam Africa, ABN TV and Radio, GHOne TV, Starr FM, OK FM, Peace FM, Adom TV, UTV, Hot Digital Online FM, Ahomka FM, FAB Photography, AKLASS photography, SWAG of Africa, Screen Nation, Inspirational You,

Partners: Final Effects Studios, NAS Studios, Anita Erskine Media, Precise Marketing, E-Volution International, Plant It Events and MakeUp Ghana. Material Sponsors: Vlisco, Kente Queen. Outfit sponsors: A-COTE Collections, Jay Renkyi. Travel Sponsor: Faze 2 Services

————————– ENDS————————

For further information please contact: 

Claudia Andrews

Email: claudia@gubaawards.co.uk

 

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

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

Marwako saga: Chef Elijah’s reflections

For the past two weeks radio stations, TV stations, friends, colleagues and pals on social media have been calling and mailing me for my opinion on the Marwako issue, given the fact that I have been working in commercial kitchens since I was 14 years old and have had the opportunity to rise through the ranks of a kitchen cleaner to the manager of commercial kitchens.

Earlier, I had decided to be mute on the issue but now I think sharing my reflections will go a long way to educate people who don’t know what goes into the food they enjoy  in restaurants and hotels within our hospitality industry.

We live in a world today where social media has made it possible for people to easily share their sympathy for the problems of humanity  with the touch of their mobile devices. Flood explosion at Circle and  social media  is flooded with millions of  sympathies and solutions. Someone commits suicide and we share sympathies till another thing happens. This and many other  social issues that society face will always trend on social media. Social media is a good tool for us to express our emotions but we must remember that there is life beyond social media and it is called “reality”.

Our world today  needs people who will step into the problems and pains of our world to offer solutions rather than stand outside of the problems .We have tried sympathy for so many years, now let’s try empathy.

There is this secrecy pact most chefs and cooks can identify with. “What happens in the kitchen stays in kitchen.” Right from the day I took the job of a kitchen cleaner in  Lagos, Nigeria at  the age 14 years, I  became familiar with  flying plates, knives, forks, pepper and all kinds of things in a kitchen.

I remember a particular Sunday night –  I was in a rush to go home to prepare for school on Monday and in my haste threw away the sauce my headchef had prepared. He insulted and threw plates at me, and at that poin  I started crying and shouted out “do you think if my mummy was alive, I would be a cleaner here whiles my mates are in school?” Did my chef care? No, but the following day he invited me to his office and apologizes for his actions because I reacted to his actions immediately and that was how he became the mentor who helped me to realize my potential as a scientist in cooking. How many Ghanaian vocational schools teach the realities of commercial kitchens? “You don’t prepare an antelope for a battle and put it into the midst of lions in a jungle.”

I never understood why chefs and kitchen supervisors across the world are so heartless until I became a Sous Chef at Chase Restaurant in 2011. The pressure and silent psychological trauma that the profession came with can turn -45 degrees to 20 degrees in 5 minutes.

Away from the kitchen, I am the Elijah you know but back in the kitchen I’m a different kind of creature. All chefs and cooks are synonymous with that law of nature. The pressure of ensuring consistency in food quality to beat competition from other hospitality companies, meeting your monthly G.P on food costing to ensure profitability, dealing with the failures of ingredient suppliers, dealing with staff  problems, buying and maintaining very expensive kitchen equipments, meeting health and safety standards in the kitchen are a few of the many hurdles kitchen managers have to deal with daily.  In an attempt to address the stress, employers will tell you that is why you get two day’s off work every week to overcome the stress, but that is not enough

Management and customers  will not accept any of this as a excuse if there’s problem with the food they ordered. Most times chefs have had to sleep over in the kitchen to be on top on issues  and that is why most chefs turn to smoking, drugs and alcohol as a way of  overcoming stress.

This is why some hotels and restaurants in Ghana will go the extra mile to bring in expatriate chefs to manage their kitchens with the perception that local chefs can’t handle the pressures in a kitchen.  I remember while serving as secretary of the Greater Accra Chefs Association, I suggested at a  tourism forum that Ghana Tourism Authority should help the association to have a counseling unit that works with hospitality companies to support kitchen staffs to overcome pressures associated with the profession.

Punishing the management and supervisor of Marwako as a deterrent will not bring to an end the occurrence of kitchen manager’s “boiling over their staff” incidence in the hospitality industry. It happens in every hospitality company across the world. In regards to this issue what I think all stakeholder’s within the hospitality industry in Ghana should do are as follows:

–          Chefs, cooks, kitchen staffs and managements of hospitality companies in Ghana should come out and accept that it is a problem that happens in the profession and form a consensus towards addressing it

–          The Ghana Tourism Authority and Ghana Tourism Federation should work with the Chefs Association of Ghana and other stakeholder’s within the hospitality industry to establish an anger and emotional management unit that gives training to people who work in the industry

–          Management of hospitality companies in Ghana should allow their kitchen staff especially young cooks and chefs to join and attend programs and training of the Chefs Association of Ghana

–          Ghana Tourism Authority and it’s partners should make it compulsory for all expatriates who intend to work in commercial kitchens in Ghana to register with the Chefs Association of Ghana as members in order for them to be giving  support and training on working with Ghanaians.

–          Stress management in Africa should be a core principal focus of all stakeholder’s in society

 By Chef Elijah Amoo Addo

‘My Ghana’ – a refelctive poem on Ghana’s 60 year journey

6 March is here again, and with Ghana celebrating 60 years of independence today, many of us will undoubtedly at some point pause to reflect on how far our motherland has come, and where we are heading.

There are many who view Ghana as the beacon of Africa, but despite being recently classed as a middle-income country, several years of mismanagement by corrupt government leaders has propelled many Ghanaians into difficulties. Unemployement among the youth stands at 48%, the public debt stock stands at 73.3% of GDP and almost 9 million Ghanaians live below the poverty line.

These are just a few things that Jones Awuah touches on in ‘My Ghana’, a poem reflecting on Ghana’s 60 year journey since 1957. Have a listen below:

U.S native gave up everything to serve the Children of Ghana

At B.A.S.I.C.S. International school here, students are gathering for afternoon “Harambee,” a self-affirming session of song and dance.

“Jump in! Jump out! Introduce yourself!” the first song goes. “There’s Crystal! And she loves to read and write!”

They clap in rhythm to a contagious melody, with the school’s founder, Brooklyn native Patricia Wilkins, swaying in their circle.
“Everybody do the freedom rumble! Everybody do the freedom rumble! I wish I knew how it feels to be free! Wish I could break all the chains holding me!”

It’s been 17 years since Wilkins arrived in Ghana from Queens, N.Y., where at 35, she jettisoned most of her possessions and boarded a plane to answer what she believed to be a calling to do missionary work in Africa.

“I was very involved in the United Methodist Church, and had just served a year doing missionary work at an orphanage in Russia,” says this African-American woman, who at the time was making good money as a fashion merchandiser.

“After Russia, I wanted to come to Africa, and they were like, ‘We’re not sending any missionaries to Africa.’ I was like, ‘Why not? Africa needs us.’ They said there was no funding for it. So I was like, ‘Alright, well, I’m going to come myself,’ ” Wilkins recounts.

She started out volunteering at schools here and cajoling family and friends in the U.S. to sponsor a child’s education. That turned in to three schools of her own.

The first — her headquarters here in this overpopulated fishing village — opened in 2010. Today, B.A.S.I.C.S. is a recognized NGO here, tackling illiteracy and poverty among extreme poor who live off less than $1.25 a day.

“We’re a nonprofit organization providing access to education to children being deprived due to child labor, child trafficking, poverty, lack of parental care. We take dropouts, and children who have never been to school. We transition them back into mainstream education,” Wilkins says. “We also run an after-school program, a girl’s boarding house, a feeding center . . .” The list goes on.

And a developing country is hard terrain. Atop the devastating poverty, plumbing and electricity challenges abound. To work here takes real commitment.

Dependent on funding from government, corporate and individual contributions, B.A.S.I.C.S. was adopted by Ghana’s Israeli Embassy, which has provided equipment, secured activity venues, and run a music education workshop for students. Israeli Ambassador Ami Mehl is a staunch advocate within Accra’s diplomatic community, bringing B.A.S.I.C.S before other foreign embassies to seek further support.

“I was volunteering at a school in Chorkor when I started seeing kids on the streets that weren’t going to school. I decided I’d sponsor a child” to go to that school, she recalls. “It was right after 9/11. I had about four children I was trying to sponsor, and sent emails to all my friends and family, saying, ‘Help me sponsor these kids.’ I got an overwhelming response. . . . People just wanted to do something to help.

She opened her first school in 2004. And the sponsorships have kept coming.

“I went from five kids to 12 after 9/11. We had 50 kids that year, and 100 the next year. We’ve sponsored over 1,000 kids to date.

“When I first came, I thought maybe six months I would be here. Six months then turned into 16.”

Source: www.chicagosuntimes.com

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_GHANA)

Ghanaian bishops: Avoid vices to keep Ghana as ‘Star of Africa’

In preparation for Ghana’s 60th anniversary celebration March 6, members of the nation’s bishops called on Ghanaians to continue to make the nation truly the “Star of Africa,” a symbol of hope for Africa’s total liberation.

The bishops also announced Ghana would hold a national eucharistic congress August. 7-13.

“God has been good to us in these six decades. Let us continue to thank God for our heritage and ask for his forgiveness where we have failed, one and all, in our various vocations and professions to contribute to making Ghana what God is calling us to,” the bishops said.

Ghana became independent from Great Britain March 6, 1957.

In a pastoral letter to Ghanaians issued February 23, the bishops called on Ghanaians to work hard, be honest and just in all they do, and to do away with all forms of corruption and immorality.

The bishops said avoiding these vices was the only way for Ghanaians to “enjoy God’s abundant blessings and favors on our homeland.”

If truly, God’s laws have been our “protection and shield,” then Ghanaians must eschew all those vices that have engulfed society, such as armed robbery, the illegal use and sale of narcotics, bribery and corruption, they said.

The bishops said even though Ghana might not have achieved all of its expectations and goals as it marks 60 years, it had made significant progress.

“Even though our democratic forward-march has suffered some political challenges and derailment in the past, God has spared us the worst, namely civil strife, wars,” they said.

 Source: Cruxnow.com
@Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_GHANA)

GET THE PERFECT CARNIVAL QUEEN BODY….TIPS FROM BRAZILIAN FITNESS EXPERT

It’s February so it’s carnival time, as Rio de Janeiro gears up for 2017’s spectacular carnival, long-time Rio procession dancer and Notthinghill Carnival Queen, Juliana Campos, explains how she works her Brazilian booty to keep fit for the fiesta!

Exercise coach and fitness expert Juliana says, “You don’t need a gym and fancy equipment to raise your metabolism, burn fat and tone. Doing a workout at home with household objects and your favourite music can build that perfectly toned Brazilian figure”.

 

WARM UP

This warm up’s fun! Choose some great music – preferably with a Brazilian drumbeat – and dance for 15 minutes. Then do 100 star jumps.

CARDIO RESISTANCE

SOFA STEPS: Make the sofa your best friend, but for exercise, not to lounge about on! Holding a litre bottle of water in each hand, step up onto the sofa and lift the bottles of over your head. When you step down, go into the squat position, and repeat the whole procedure 3 x 10. Finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

CHAIR PRESS UPS: Place a chair in front of you with its back securely flush with the wall.  Then placing your hands the width of the chair seat and assume the press position, and press up and down 3 x 10. Again, finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING: Either on a chair or on the floor, keep your hands at shoulder-width. Then, with a straight back and legs, bring your right knee towards your right elbow, and then the same with your left, just as if you’re climbing a mountain. Repeat 3 x 20, and finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

CHAIR SQUATS: Placing a chair behind you, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms parallel to the floor at shoulder level. Sit down and get up again, all the time keeping that straight back. To get up, you should use your quads and your abs – not your back. 3 x 10 and finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

WALKING LUNGES: Walk like a duck around your house, with your knees almost touching the floor. Keeping your spine very straight, make sure you do 30 lunges with each leg. Finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

KICK-OUT SQUATS: Squat down with your feet hip width apart and kick back with your right leg, and then the left. Repeat 3 x 10 and – you’ve guessed it! – finish with 20 seconds of star jumps.

STRETCH: Always end your workout by stretching all your muscles properly!

DIET TIPS

Juliana is keen to stress that keeping a Carnival-Queen body isn’t all about exercise – think about what you eat too.

Before your workout, have a black coffee with a teaspoonful of coconut oil stirred into it. This will speed up your metabolism and do wonders for your workout.Drink lots of water while you’re training – you need to keep hydrated as well as flush out waste products.

Eat light, lean and clean – salads with plenty of olive oil for example. Fish is great, but Juliana’s mantra is “meat’s a treat for twice a week”. Avoid junk food, butter, fried food and sugary drinks.When you go out for dinner, politely ask the waiter / chef that you like your food light, lean and clean. That means no butter, no salt, lemon on the side, and a little bowl of olive oil for flavor. Sometimes it’s good to relax a bit, and the weekends are your ‘cheat days’! Have a little of what you fancy – a pizza or burger for example – but no more than half a portion. Try Juliana’s favorite ‘Acai in the Bowl’. High in antioxidants, it’s made with pieces of banana and tastes like ice cream. Please see here for the link to her recipe. Who said getting your body ready for the Carnival had to be a punishment!Press, Enquiries & High-Res Images

 

President Nana Akufo Addo’s State of the Nation Address

MESSAGE ON THE STATE OF THE NATION  BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, ON THE OCCASION OF THE STATE OPENING OF PARLIAMENT ON  TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017.

Mr. Speaker,

It is good to be back here again in this Chamber, where I spent some 12 memorable years as a Member of Parliament. I recollect with nostalgia the vigorous debates of my days here as a Minority MP, and I have very fond memories of being on the Majority side also.

I can see some old faces from my first days here – like the 2nd Deputy Speaker, Hon. Alban Bagbin, whom I came to meet in the House in 1997, and who became a good friend of mine; and Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader, with whom I entered Parliament on the same side, at the same time.

On December 7th, 2016, the Ghanaian people went to the polls, and voted decisively for change. As a result, today, I am here again in this House, this time as President of the Republic, having secured an emphatic, electoral victory.

Mr. Speaker, we have to thank God for His Grace and Favour for a peaceful and smooth transfer of power, in which Ghanaians rose to the occasion, and made our nation the object of world admiration. The Ghanaian people are to be commended for their strong attachment to the principles of democratic accountability.

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to express my sincere appreciation to my predecessor, President John Mahama, for his leadership and his role in the transition. His conduct has been a credit to our nation.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see the presence in this House of two other former Presidents of the Republic, their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor. I am in the enviable position of being the first Ghanaian leader to be able to draw on the experiences of three living, former Presidents. This should, definitely, enrich my tenure of office.

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your unanimous election to preside over the affairs of this House. It is a fitting acknowledgement of your distinguished service to our nation. I congratulate also your deputies on their appointments, the 1st Deputy Speaker, a respected member of the House, Hon. Joe Osei Wusu, and 2nd Deputy Speaker, the veteran legislator, Hon. Alban Bagbin. I commend also the Majority Leader, my contemporary in this House, who can now put his extensive experience of Parliament to use as Leader of the House and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs. My compliments go, too, to the new Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, who announced himself on the national stage when he came here in my last term in the House. It is clear that he has an important future in Ghanaian politics. I want to assure him and the leadership of the House, on both sides, that I will co-operate fully with Parliament to enhance the governance of our nation to be able to do the business of Ghana effectively.

Mr. Speaker, I use this occasion to commend the Electoral Commission and its Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, for the conduct of our recent elections, which has received domestic and international acclaim. In the coming years, I hope that our electoral processes will become even more robust, so that free and fair elections become automatic parts of our democratic culture.

Mr. Speaker, certain incidents occurred during the transition period that are matters of concern to me, and should be to every Ghanaian, as they marred an otherwise dignified and successful transition. Wrongdoing has no political colour, and I do not subscribe to the lawlessness of political party supporters simply because their party has been elected into office.

Mr. Speaker, when those incidents began, I instructed the then Inspector General of Police, John Kudalor, to apply the law, irrespective of political affiliation, to all lawbreakers. This instruction was also carried on to his successor, David Asante Appeatu. Both of them acted upon it, which helped to bring the situation under control.

It appears these events were predicated on some concept of equalisation, as they happened in 2009, and were repeated again in 2017. I condemn all such conduct, and I call on all political parties, especially the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress, to ensure that this is the last time such undignified acts occur during our periods of transition.

Mr. Speaker, I come before you, today, in fulfilment of the constitutional obligation that the President of the Republic gives a message to Parliament on the state of the nation at the beginning of Parliament’s session.

Since my inauguration some six weeks ago as president of our country, I have set to work, putting into place the members of the team who will help me govern.

I have heard it said that I am behaving like a man in a hurry. Mr. Speaker, I am, indeed, in a hurry, I am in a great hurry. The times, in which we live, demand that we, all, be in a hurry to deal with the problems we face.

I am grateful, therefore, to the Honourable House for the expeditious manner in which my ministerial nominees have been vetted and approved, thus far. I look forward to the House dealing with the rest of the nominees I send, in an equally fast and efficient manner.

Now that the processes for the composition of the Council of State have been completed, I shall inaugurate the Council this week, which will enable me to proceed rapidly with the appointments that need to be done in consultation with the Council. The full complement of appointments should be in place by the end of March.

Mr. Speaker, the conditions in our country demand that government machinery functions efficiently and at full force, and that nothing is left on autopilot. The conditions demand that all of us, each and every one of us, tackle every task before us with speed and dedication.

Mr Speaker, to give a fair account of the state of our nation, I have to give an account of the state of our economy, of our governance and of our national culture and attitudes. This account will highlight some of the fundamental elements of the situation, and will not pretend to be a detailed, sectoral analysis of our condition. I leave that to the budget statement, to be delivered in ten days time.

Mr. Speaker, I say nothing new or dramatic, when I tell this Honourable House that the economy of our country is in a bad way. After all, in the run-up to the recent elections, I said so, often and loudly. Some six weeks after taking over the reins of government, it gives me no pleasure to have to say that our worst fears have been confirmed, plus a few additional, unpleasant surprises as well.

Mr Speaker, many get quite lost when economists start rattling figures and statistics. I will try not to bore you with a lot of figures, but I hope you will bear with me as I have to put certain essential facts before our country.

You would recall that, notwithstanding the fact that the previous government had more than ten times the financial resources than any other government since independence, its management of our economy in the run up to the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections resulted in a quagmire that necessitated the urgent intervention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2014. The IMF programme negotiated was ostensibly to restore fiscal discipline, debt sustainability and increase economic growth. The previous government promised Ghanaians that the reckless public expenditure that characterized the 2012 election year would not be repeated in 2016.

Mr. Speaker, the promises to the Ghanaian people were, however, not kept. In fact, virtually all the targets under the IMF programme, as at December 2016, have been missed. Fiscal indiscipline, once again, reared its head in the 2016 election year. Total projected expenditure for 2016 was GH¢43.9 billion (26% of GDP), but actual expenditure amounted to GH¢50.3 billion (30.2% of GDP). The full facts of the situation have not been put before the Ghanaian people. It appears, from what we are finding out, that some GH¢7 billion of arrears and outstanding payments circumvented the very public financial management system that was put in place to prevent such occurrences. These expenditures are being currently audited.

Mr. Speaker, at the same time, revenue performance for the year was poor.  The total revenue target for our country was GH¢37.9 billion (22.7% of GDP), but the actual revenue came in at GH¢33.2 billion (19.9% of GDP).

Mr. Speaker, the combination of higher expenditures and lower revenues than projected resulted in a significant increase in the budget deficit for 2016. As compared to a target of 5.3% under the IMF programme, the fiscal deficit for 2016 was 9% of GDP on a cash basis and 10.2% of GDP on a commitment basis (that is on the basis of expenditures undertaken but not yet paid for). It should be recalled that, at the time Ghana entered into the IMF programme to restore fiscal discipline, the fiscal deficit was 10.2% of GDP. It is very clear, therefore, that the objectives set out in the programme have not been achieved.

Mr. Speaker, the increasing fiscal deficits were financed by increased borrowing. As at the beginning of 2009, Ghana’s total debt stock was GH¢9.5 billion. By the end of 2016, the debt stock had ballooned to GH¢122 billion. Ghana’s debt stock now stands at 74% of GDP, after all the previous denials to the contrary. More debt was accumulated by the previous government in the last eight years than all other governments put together since independence!  In fact, 92% of Ghana’s total debt stock was incurred in the last eight years under the previous government. The interest costs on this debt have also increased and will amount to an estimated GH¢14.1 billion in 2017.

Mr. Speaker, the reality of the state Ghana’s public finances today are quite stark. Today, as a result of policy choices, we find ourselves in a situation where Ghana’s total revenue is consumed by three main budgetary lines: wages and salaries, interest payments and amortization and statutory payments. These three items alone account for 99.6% of government revenue. This means that anything else that government has to do outside of these lines will have to be financed by borrowing or aid. After eight years of the previous government, there is practically no fiscal space left. The persistent resort to borrowing for any additional expenditures to meet the aspirations of our people is also not sustainable.  We cannot continue this way with our public finances. I will not allow this economy to collapse under my watch. We will reduce significantly the fiscal deficit this year.

Mr. Speaker, Ghana’s economic growth has also declined dramatically. Notwithstanding the record amount of financial resources at the disposal of the previous government, Ghana’s GDP growth in 2016 (including oil) is estimated at 3.6%. This is the lowest GDP growth in about 23 years.

Mr. Speaker, Ghana’s banking sector has not escaped the economic decline and has become increasingly fragile. Bad loans in the banking sector have risen significantly. Economic and Financial data from the Central Bank show that non-performing loans have risen sharply from 11.2% in May 2015 to 17.3% in December 2016. The recent Asset Quality Review of Banks shows significant vulnerability of banks to current economic conditions, with many exhibiting significant weaknesses.

Mr. Speaker, low growth, rising rate of unemployment, high fiscal deficits, high and rising debt, and increased depreciation of the cedi, high cost of food, housing and utilities and high non-performing loans, amongst others, are symptoms of deeper structural problems that will require a range of reforms, beginning immediately and spanning the short, medium and long terms.  We are going to have to implement some tough, prudent and innovative policies to get out of this financial cul-de sac and rescue this economy, restore fiscal discipline and debt sustainability as well as increase economic growth.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me no joy to tell the story of the economy as it is – as we inherited it. Too much time, energy and resources were spent in the past, in my view, without a deliberate, conscious assessment of their impact on jobs, and whether or not we were spending wisely to improve the lives of the people, communities and businesses. But, I was not elected by the overwhelming majority of the Ghanaian people to complain. I was elected to get things done. I was elected to fix what is broken and my government and I are determined to do just that. At the beginning of March, the Minister for Finance will come to this House to lay out in the national budget the details of our economic policy and the clear roadmap that we have laid out for taking the country out of its current predicament and onto a sustainable path of recovery, jobs creation and prosperity. I am absolute in my confidence that we have the programme, the competence, the commitment, and the goodwill of the people to turn things around. By the Grace of God, we will succeed and I believe this House knows it too.

In the immediate term, targeted legislative policy and institutional reforms will have to be undertaken to unleash the suppressed potential of the economy and allow Ghanaian entrepreneurship to rise and thrive, domestically and internationally.

For too many young people, unemployment is sadly the reality of the start to their adult life. For years, for generations, it was assumed and guaranteed in this country that the quality of life of every generation would be an improvement on that of their parents. We are now faced with the phenomenon of parents looking on in frustration as their grown-up children remain at home, without the means to strike an independent life by themselves.

This generation of Ghanaians dares not be the one to reverse this natural trend. We must create the atmosphere that generates jobs. We must boost the confidence of the private sector to invest in the economy.

We must have the courage to start building our future and take the hard decisions that need to be taken to grow our economy. We have no choice but to reduce the budget deficit and cut waste in all sectors of public life. We must complete the formalisation of the economy. The process for a comprehensive national identification system and a property titling system will be completed this year. That will boost confidence in our country and increase investment from nationals and foreigners. Then we will be able to generate jobs.

We must boost the confidence of the private sector to invest in the economy.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the starting point in turning round our fortunes must be with agriculture. Unfortunately, the state of agriculture in our country right now is not good. Farmers are left on their own. It is not surprising, therefore, that food prices are high and we are having to import almost everything we eat, including vegetables from our Sahelian neighbours. And yet, agriculture provides the best opportunity to use modern methods to change the lives of many, within the shortest possible time.

We have to irrigate our lands and equip farmers with the skills needed to make farming a well-paying business. We aim to popularize farming by encouraging many people to take it up as a full or part time activity. A National Campaign, “PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS”, will be launched to stimulate this activity. An amount of 125 million Canadian dollars has been secured from Canada, a friend of our nation, to support the initiative.

This Campaign will be anchored on the pillars that will transform agriculture: the provision of improved seeds, the supply of fertilizers, the provision of dedicated extension services, a marketing strategy and the use of e-Agriculture.

To initiate the Campaign, the District Assemblies will be tasked to identify and register progressive farmers in each of the 216 districts.

Mr Speaker, for too long our farmers have been left to cope by themselves, without the necessary support from government. For too long, our farmers have been left to the mercy of the vagaries of the weather.

We have decided to embark upon a programme to provide water to enable all-year farming. We are calling it the one-village, one-dam policy. It is a programme that I expect will rapidly get the support of the population, and should help to transform food insecurity in our country.

The three northern regions, in particular, will benefit from the availability of water to enable all-year farming, so that the enforced yearly migration can be minimized and food production become more predictable.

I look forward to an increase in public investment in agriculture, starting from the first budget of my government. We must reverse the unfortunate trend of the past eight years, which saw a regular decrease in public investment in the sector that provides a living for the majority of our people.

Mr Speaker, food processing has been the first step towards industrialization in virtually every country, and it is time for us to take it seriously. Not only will it serve to cut down on the wastage of crops during the high season, it will provide more jobs and expand farming business. Food processing will also save time in the preparation and cooking of our local foods, and there will be better control on the hygiene in the process. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to an exciting time in the agricultural sector.

Mr. Speaker, if I were to ask each one of you in this Chamber, today, to tell me what the number one problem was in your constituency, I suspect there would be a uniform answer: JOBS.

The most critical challenge, inherited by this NPP government, is the very high, unprecedented level of unemployment, particularly among the youth. It is a debilitating and confidence-sapping problem that affects every home. We can argue on what the official rate of unemployment is, but we can all see the desperation of our young people. They want to work, but there are no jobs and some of them are being driven to unacceptable behaviour. We have a veritable time bomb on our hands.

To address this challenge, the government is embarking on one of the most comprehensive programmes for industrial transformation ever to be introduced in our country.

The key elements of this programme are:

  1. restoration and maintenance of a stable macro-economy
  2. monetary and fiscal measures which will lead to a reduction in interest rates and a reduction in the tax burden on enterprises
  3. provision of reliable, affordable power to enterprises and homes
  4. setting up of a stimulus package to support existing Ghanaian industries and improve their competitiveness
  5. implementation of the initiative, through public-private partnerships, to establish at least one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 Districts in the “One District, One Factory” policy
  6. development of strategic anchor initiatives as new pillars of growth for the Ghanaian economy, including the establishment of petrochemical industries; an iron and steel industry; an integrated aluminum industry; the expansion of the domestic production of pharmaceuticals; the establishment of a vehicle assembly and automotive industry; the production of industrial salt; the establishment of garment and textiles enterprises; and the manufacture of machinery, equipment and component parts
  7. establishment of a multi-purpose industrial park in each of the ten regions
  8. implementation of a comprehensive programme for SME development
  9. establishment of an industrial sub-contracting exchange to link large scale companies with SMEs
  10. implementation of an aggressive programme for export development, targeting, primarily, regional and continental markets
  11. enhancement of domestic retail market infrastructure and the active promotion of the marketing and distribution of domestically produced goods
  12. improvement of the business environment through regulatory and other reforms, and
  13. establishment of a permanent consultative forum for public-private sector dialogue.

We are confident that, through these interventions, significant job opportunities will be opened to Ghanaians across the country.

Mr. Speaker, the Takoradi to Paga railway, connecting the Eastern and Western corridors, will be initiated this year to open up our country and provide access to our landlocked neighbours. It will also provide a lot of jobs.

Mr Speaker, probably the most difficult problem, that has dogged this nation in the past five years, has been in the energy sector. This has caused havoc in small, medium and large enterprises. It has disrupted families and businesses and brought many organizations to their knees.

The most obvious manifestation of the energy problem has earned us notoriety in the world, with the entry into Wikipedia and other dictionaries of the word DUMSOR. It is a phenomenon that has blighted our lives, destroyed appliances and collapsed many companies. The attempts by the previous government to resolve the crisis have led to a gargantuan debt overhang in the sector.

We have inherited a heavily indebted energy sector, with the net debt reaching 2.4 billion US dollars as at December 2016. I have to point out the alarming fact that 800 million US dollars of this debt is owed to local banks, which threatens their stability and that of the whole financial sector.  Indeed, the huge indebtedness of the energy sector constitutes the single major hurdle to Ghanaians enjoying reliable and affordable electricity supply.

Mr Speaker, there has been some improvement in the power supply since November last year, but the challenges facing Ghana’s power sector are far from over. The key problem is cost. We produce power from Akosombo at three US cents per kilowatt hour. The marginal price charged for businesses is an effective 42 cents, more than ten times the average tariff in West Africa.

This makes it very difficult to start or run a business here and be competitive. The cost of energy destroys businesses large and small. It is the bane of the vulcanizer, the tailor, the dressmaker and the hairdresser, the carpenter and the wayside fitting mechanic.  It destroys jobs. It compounds poverty. The current state of the energy situation in our country is unsatisfactory.

The problems are enormous, but we must, and we will, confront them.

I am proposing a number of policy interventions.  We will improve on transparency in tariff setting, and introduce a new tariff policy that will reclassify consumer categories in order to protect lifeline and strategic industrial consumers. We will also reduce significantly some of the levies and taxes on the tariffs.

As at the end of 2016, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) had signed 43 Power Purchase Agreements (PPA), whilst a further 23 were under discussion. Government is conducting a review of all the Power Agreements entered into by the previous government in order to prioritise, renegotiate, defer or cancel outright, if necessary, in the national interest.

Overall, we have begun to develop a national electricity masterplan, which will also explore the benefits of listing VRA and GRIDCO on the Stock Exchange.

Mr. Speaker, my government will enforce the procurement law. We will insist on open and competitive bidding for power capacity procurement. This will not only reduce the cost of power projects and ensure value for money, but will also address the problem of unplanned procurement.

Government will encourage increased private sector investment in utility scale solar and wind energy projects, as well as accelerate the development of mini-grid solutions in off-grid and island communities for lighting, irrigation and other economic activities.

We will, consequently, review the Renewable Energy Act to provide further incentives to attract the private sector to invest.

Mr Speaker, the Ghana Compact II programme has officially come into force. Both parties to the Compact, the Governments of Ghana and United States of America, are committed to complying with their obligations. However, the implementation of Ghana’s commitments has faced some challenges due to disagreements between stakeholders, particularly between labour, ECG and the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA).

We need further dialogue on the key issues that have generated these disagreements. We are aware that these discussions should be concluded urgently in order to arrive at the decisions that will allow for its implementation. We expect that all stakeholders will discuss these issues dispassionately and transparently, to ensure that all concerns are adequately addressed.

Mr. Speaker, the success of all our plans and all our aspirations depends on our ability to educate our young people, and provide the opportunity for lifelong education to the adult population. Mr. Speaker, it is not an original statement, but it is a true statement: education is the key; education holds the key to the rapid development of our country; it holds the key to a better understanding and accommodation with our environment; it equips us with the skills required to deal with the world; education holds the key to the prosperous and happy Ghana we all want and deserve.

Luckily, there is consensus amongst us on the need to provide quality education to all of Ghana’s children. If I am in a hurry, I am in a hurry to ensure that every child born in this country attends school from Kindergarten to Senior High School; in other words, that is the basic education that each child is required to receive. We intend to reform the basic school curricula with emphasis on literacy, numeracy and creative skills.

And just in case there is anyone left in this country who has not heard  yet, Free SHS starts with the 2017/2018 entrants into the public SHS.

We shall embark upon a vigorous expansion and re-equipping of Technical, Vocational and Agricultural schools and align all TVAET under the Ministry of Education to ensure standardization.

The teaching of mathematics and science will take pride of place in all schools, as we aim to make understanding of the scientific basis of life a central plank in our schools. We will, thus, make the use of ICT a central feature of our national life.

My government shall place teachers at the centre of quality education, and encourage professionalism among them. There will have to be some legislative reforms to ease some of the bottlenecks at the district level of supervision.

By the way, teacher trainee allowances will be restored when the Minister of Finance comes to read the budget. We keep our promises, just as we shall ensure that our sports development is hinged on the revival of school sports.

Mr. Speaker, there has been far too much tension in the education sector. It is in everyone’s interest that the school experience is a happy one for children, teachers and parents alike. The happy and skilled population that will drive the path to development starts at school. We aim to provide the key to prosperity in our schools.

Mr. Speaker, we have to be healthy if we are to make a success of the plans and aspirations we have. The National Health Insurance Scheme remains the best option we have devised to ensure that as many people as possible have access to health care in our clinics and hospitals. The scheme is not in a good state, and there are too many providers that are owed money. They are threatening to opt out and stop offering their services to the most vulnerable in our society. We shall restore the National Health Insurance Scheme to good health.

And yes, the Minister for Finance will restore the allowances to trainee nurses in the budget.

Mr. Speaker, government will work with Parliament to pass the Affirmative Action Bill to increase women’s involvement in decision making at all levels, and enable us achieve our current objective of 30 per cent  participation of women in public appointments.

Mr. Speaker, the time has come to enforce the Disability Act and ensure its compliance, which will begin with access to public buildings for the physically challenged. The Minister for Local Government will also see to the implementation of the District Integrated Social Services programme for children, families and vulnerable adults.

Mr. Speaker, our people can only prosper and flourish in an atmosphere of peace and security. Safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation is critical for our progress.

We will improve the state of combat readiness of our armed forces by improving the logistical infrastructure, and improve the welfare of service men and women and also of veterans. Our armed forces remain one of the best-organized and most professional in Africa.

Mr. Speaker, I bring you greetings from The Gambia, where I was a guest last weekend at the inauguration ceremony of President Adama Barrow. Ghana should always take its membership of ECOWAS seriously, as its viability advances our national interest.

One of the first issues that came to my attention, as soon as I assumed office, was the request from ECOWAS to send a military contingent from Ghana, as part of the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG) to resolve the post-electoral impasse in that country. Senegal was to provide 3,150; Nigeria 509; and Ghana 210 troops. I assented to the request as it involved large issues of regional stability, and the preservation of democracy and rule of law in a member state. Ghana sent 208 troops. The Mission succeeded in creating the necessary environment for the rule of law to be maintained, and for the rightful transfer of authority to the newly elected President. I saw with my own eyes how popular that event has been in the Gambia; and how popular is the ECOWAS mission.

Consequently, ECOWAS has now put forward a new mandate which involves reducing the force to one of 500 soldiers, intended to be a stabilisation force. As from yesterday, February 20, Senegal will provide 250, Nigeria 200 and Ghana 50 troops in the force.

Presently about 3,000 Ghanaian soldiers are involved in peace keeping operations around the globe. We need to do more to keep their morale high and empower them. We have decided that they should be paid their allowances at post, and not on their return. I am glad to say that this new regime of payment has been applied to the case of The Gambian deployment.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be able to inform the House that the outstanding arrears of 13 million US dollars for all peacekeeping personnel have been cleared by my government, and the contingents in the Gambia have been paid all their allowances in full.

I have asked the Minister for Defence to come shortly before Parliament and make a statement on the Gambian deployment.

There are serious difficulties facing our armed forces that are not unlike those facing other parts of our public sector. Overcrowded and inappropriate accommodation for personnel, inability to pay food and utility bills, and threats from providers to cut supplies; these are the everyday stories in all departments and our armed forces face the same problems. It is a regrettable state of affairs that will not continue under my administration.

Mr. Speaker, the police are the first line of security and protection for citizens. We must have an efficient police service that has the confidence and support of the people. I am determined to give whatever support is required from government to ensure that we have the service that the people of Ghana deserve. We must get a more professional police service, where recruitment and training practices are of acceptable international standards. We shall continue recruitment into the police service, with the aim of meeting the U.N ratio of 1 police officer to 500 civilians, and also ensuring gender equity.

All of us are agreed on the Ghana we want; a prosperous, united and peaceful country. Some countries have made progress in the economic field and achieved some of the results we desire. I have listened with incredulity, as some amongst us have advocated the harsh methods that appear to have helped some countries achieve rapid progress.

Some, amongst us, seem to be flirting with the concept of authoritarianism and romanticising it, as an acceptable price to pay to achieve rapid development.

Mr. Speaker, I have an unshakable and undying belief in freedom and the democratic process, and in their capacity to inspire rapid development. Development in freedom should remain our moral anchor. That is the Ghanaian way and that is the Akufo-Addo way.

The rule of law should remain our guiding and unbending principle. Those of us in public service should acknowledge that corruption is one of the biggest concerns to the people of Ghana. It is the one subject on which a surprising number of people are willing to tolerate a waiver of due process. This is because, unfortunately, public officials are in danger of losing the confidence of the people in the fight against corruption. There is a perception that all public officials are part of a great scam to defraud the public and that they protect each other. It is in everybody’s interest that the fight against corruption is transparent and has the support of the public.

Mr Speaker, the office of the Special Prosecutor has been shown to work in other places, and I shall be bringing legislation before the House for its rapid establishment. I am satisfied that the Office will be established in a manner consistent with the Constitution. In like manner, I shall propose for legislation amendments to the current asset declaration regime to make it more effective.

Mr Speaker, the people of Ghana have voted for change. All the various arms of government should recognize this strong desire on the part of the people for change. We continue along the path of business as usual at our own risk.

Mr Speaker, my personal belief in and adherence to the concept of the separation of powers is well-known, and I do not intend to interfere in any way in the affairs of Parliament or the Judiciary. But I would be failing in my duty if I failed to say what needs to be said.

Mr Speaker, all three arms of government, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature need to take cognisance of the clear desire of the people of Ghana for change. All three branches must change the way we do things. I ask this Honourable House to take a candid look at itself and consider changing the way it conducts its business, if needs be.

Mr Speaker, there are some areas of our lives in which we can all demonstrate the change for which the people of Ghana have voted: punctuality, sanitation and the care of the environment. Over the years, it has become acceptable practice that official functions invariably start and close late. We invite people to functions for 9am and start at 10am. I have heard some offer the preposterous excuse that there is something cultural about not paying attention to time. Mr Speaker, let us show that we acknowledge that change has, indeed, come by being punctual to functions. I intend to set a personal example.

The other area of our lives in which we can and should start making a change is the care of the environment.. We are in danger of destroying our blessed country. Ours is a beautiful country. If we claim to love our country, we must take care of the lands, the trees, the water bodies and the animals. They are part of what makes Ghana.

The change we have voted for demands that we adopt better and sustainable sanitation habits, and learn to protect and preserve our environment.

Mr. Speaker, there is one subject on my mind that I wish to put before the House for consideration. I believe, in this 60th year of our nation, that the time is ripe for us to establish consensus on some national issues. It is important for us to have a conversation on how we name things that are of national importance to us all. I speak of the seat of the Presidency and Founder’s’ Day.

In my view, it is not right that, 60 years after independence, these matters are still at large. It does not inure to the dignity of the Ghanaian Republic that such matters have become subject to political football.

I believe we have to settle these matters once and for all, and in due course, I propose we have a national conversation and dialogue to this effect which, hopefully, will end in legislation that will reflect the national consensus.

Mr. Speaker, in a few days’ time, we shall mark the 60th anniversary of the independence of our country. Ebenezer, thus far has the Lord brought us.

Mr. Speaker, we all know where we want Ghana to be, and we are aware we are not where we want to be or ought to be. We also know of the big dreams of our forefathers to build a self-reliant and self-sustaining nation that would take pride of place amongst the comity of nations.

This anniversary provides us with the opportunity to reflect on our past and plan for the future. This is the Ghana we see – a new Ghana.

We will put in place policies that will deliver sustainable growth and cut out corruption.

We will set upon the path to build a Ghana that is not dependent on charity; a Ghana that is able to look after its people through intelligent management of the resources with which it has been endowed.

This is our path, and this path offers a new Ghana.

This Ghana will be defined by integrity, sovereignty, a common ethos, discipline, and shared values. It is one where we aim to be masters of our own destiny, where we mobilise our own resources for the future, breaking the shackles of the “Guggisberg” colonial economy and a mind-set of dependency, bailouts and extraction. It is an economy where we look past commodities to position ourselves in a global marketplace. It is a country where we focus on trade, not aid, a hand-up, not a hand-out. It is a country with a strong private sector. It is a country that recognises the connectedness of its people and economy to those of its neighbours.

This requires a forward-looking vision for our country, enabling us to confront our challenges and embrace our opportunities, not one fastened in the rear-view mirror.

It is a Ghana beyond aid.

Mr. Speaker, thank you, and may God bless our homeland Ghana and make her great and strong.

 

 

Andy Sarfo Releases ‘Your Love’ For Valentines Season

Love at first sight is something that has happened for years and this is no different for this song. After a short hiatus from music, Simply Andy returns with this Smash Hit, ‘Your Love’. It is very clear to see that Andy is truly an all round entertainer. On this Valentine’s day, he gifts us with this beautiful song.

Please listen, share, download!

‘Your Love’ is out now on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, Tidal and all digital and streaming platforms.

Listen to the song below: