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Where are the jobs?

Tuesday, 03 March 2015 09:20

The Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG) estimates that over 68,000 graduates are produced annually by the country’s tertiary institutions, with about 600,000 already unemployed graduates in the country.

Other unconfirmed figures available state that about 250,000 youth join the labour force annually, over 30% of this population holding either diploma, degree or a professional certificate. This makes over 75,000 per annum joining the labour force.

The fear of the young graduates deepens with the growing trend of membership of the Unemployed Graduates Association and the coming into existence each day of new tertiary institutions.

By the time these graduates pass out, they find to their deepest frustration that the job market is choked or that the courses the majority of these graduates chose do not reflect national requirements.

In the face of this serious problem, government seems to be more interested in social protection policies, which do not make any significant change in the lives of Ghanaians who desperately need sustainable jobs to improve their standard of living.

It is a fact that job creation and social protection schemes are not mutually exclusive, but job creation needs more attention in order to reduce the burden imposed by social protection schemes.

Entrenched levels of high unemployment among young people are dangerous to national stability.

A number of factors account for the growing youth unemployment in Ghana.

Historical evidence indicates that youth unemployment in Ghana is due to, on the one hand, more than a threefold increase in the youthful population and, on the other, failure of the economy to generate sufficient employment outlets.

Also, education and training have no link to the needs of the important sectors of the economy.

The near collapse of Ghana’s industrial base due to ineffective management of the divestiture process which resulted in the closure of many factories without a structural transformation of the economy to generate alternative jobs for people also accounts for the high unemployment levels.

Another factor contributing to unemployment is the shrinking of public sector employment opportunities, coupled by a relatively slow growth of the private sector as well as the lack of a coherent national employment policy and comprehensive strategy to deal with the employment problem.

The failure of government to harness the positives in the Ghanaian graduate to develop the country is a danger to the entire citizenry because of the possibility nature has in taping the negative energies of graduates into foul activities such as internet fraud and hacking of internet servers by some unemployed computer scientists, which is evident for all to see.

The sad aspect of the unemployment situation is that there is no up-to-date data on joblessness in the country and the characteristics of people who are employed -- including in which sectors they are working.

 

Is govt anti-business?

Monday, 09 March 2015 13:20

Government has indefinitely suspended the implementation of the Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP) and the Advance Shipment Information (ASHI). 

The suspension follows threats by the business community to embark on demonstration against the two policies.

The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana said the implementation of ASHI is inimical to business.

Importers and exporters argue that G-CAP will increase the cost of imports, which will be passed on to consumers, and cannot achieve its targeted aim of clamping down on fake and sub-standard imports.

According to them, the introduction of G-CAP would only make Ghana less competitive in the ease of doing business, which will further plummet the economy.

The businesses said G-CAP is time-consuming, problematic and expensive, and will wipe out the small- and medium-scale traders who buy mixed goods from the open market, as additional cost will be shifted to them.

Now, a Member of Parliament (MP), an individual and a Development Data, a policy research and advocacy institution, have filed a writ at the Human Rights Division of a High Court in Accra asking the court to order government not to proceed with the implementation of the Interconnect Clearing House (ICH). 

Currently, the telecommunications companies have arrangements and infrastructure for connecting calls from one network to another. 

The Internet Service Providers (GISPA) also do not want the ICH because they say it is too risky to leave such an important part of their business in the hands of an ICH operator appointed by government. 

Multinational telecommunications companies have raised similar concerns and requested that if government would set up the ICH at all, it should not be mandatory for them to route their calls and data services through it. 

They have sought to know from government what problem government is seeking to solve.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has also condemned the government move, saying that "the ICH has the potential of crippling the telecoms industry and rolling back the gains made in the sector so far."

IMANI’s president Franklin Cudjoe has described the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the Ministry of Communication as extremely wasteful enterprises following their introduction of the Interconnect Clearing House.

In spite of all these concerns, government has proceeded to appoint the ICH operator, Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd, and has charged Afriwave to start operations by May 2015.

It is important to note that telecommunication companies have also kicked against the move saying it will also increase their cost of doing business.

The private sector is the engine of growth as it provides the much-needed jobs, increases productivity, contributes the biggest chunk of taxes, among others.

For this reason, it is important for government to promote business-friendly policies to aid development.

Just as government suspended ASHI and G-CAP, it will be important to look into the concerns raised by the various stakeholders on the ICH before proceeding further. 

They are not yet guilty

Tuesday, 10 March 2015 09:35

Over 200 unsuspecting 'recruits' gathered at various police training centres across the country after showing admission letters purportedly signed by Commissioner of Police (COP) Timbillah, but he denies the signature.

Immediate investigations launched into the incident resulted in the arrest of several persons.

Out of the suspects arrested, two of them – identified as Aisha Asumda, alias Aisha Boku Masi, a 36-year-old shea butter seller suspected to be the mastermind of the scam, and her accomplice, Alifa Adams, alias Abass, a 27-year-old unemployed – were arrested at Tesano and Adenta respectively, following a tip-off.

The five other suspects apprehended at various locations across the country include Amos Brown, 40, a radio presenter; General Corporal Gideon Sarpong of the Visibility Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Takoradi; and Constable Ruth Agyiri, 27, of the Central Police Station, Koforidua.

The rest are Pastor Paul Danso from Tarkwa and Richard Harrison, 30.

Two officers who were among the people arrested are said to have named COP Timbillah as an accomplice. He was immediately interdicted.

The Police Administration has expressed surprise at the sophistication and magnitude of the recent fake police recruitment scandal.

It said the Special Investigations Taskforce (SIT) undertaking the investigations, which is under the direct leadership and supervision of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), would do everything possible to establish the culprits behind that act.

While we commend the Police Service for taking a bold step to investigate and punish offenders, we are disturbed by the rate at which all kinds of allegations are being thrown into the public domain.

It is important to ensure that the reputation of people arrested or interdicted is not damaged beyond repairs at a time investigations are still ongoing.

A hard-won reputation built over a long period can be destroyed in a twinkle of an eye, but restoring a dented image is not an easy task.

Under the laws of Ghana, a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction.

One thing is certain: there is a high cost to pay for losing reputation.

It is for this reason The Finder is cautioning the general public to desist from publishing unsubstantiated information.

Let us all wait patiently for the conclusion of this matter before we pass judgement.

 

Violence never solves any problem

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 13:15

Yesterday, a demonstration by the youth in Kpone Katamanso in the Tema Metropolis turned chaotic with some of the demonstrators clashing with the police.

Scores of demonstrators sustained varying degrees of injuries in the clash and were rushed to the Tema General Hospital.

Police say the demonstrators agreed to use the main Kpone-Tema road and head towards the cemetery and then present a petition, but the demonstrators violated the route agreed on with the police.

However, when the police tried to control them, the demonstrators started hurling stones and bottles at the police, leading to the clash.

The police, therefore, fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

 Reasons for the demo

Hundreds of youth were demonstrating over lack of development in the area as well as the current power outage they are enduring.

The demonstrators threatened to raze down the Asogli power plant in 48 hours if their electricity supply is not improved.

The residents do not understand why Asogli would be generating power from within the metropolis whilst they endure eternal darkness.

They claim there is high unemployment rate in the area despite the area being surrounded by a number of companies.

Demonstration is the democratic right of every individual. The youth of Kpone have every right to express their frustrations.

However, it is important for them to recognise that violence is never an effective way to solve problems. 

It would only aggravate the problem. 

When anger overcomes a person, he or she tends to be deaf. The individual listens to none but himself or herself.

So the problem is not talked about by the parties involved, thus no resolution is brought about. 

An effective way of solving problems is confronting the problem, sorting out what needs to be sorted out, not shunning away from the problem through violence.

Most conflict resolution programmes are based on the premise that people can control emotions that arise out of conflict and lead to violent action.

The district assembly, chiefs and industries situated on Kpone lands have to put their heads together and resolve the problems listed by the youth.

This is not the first time the youth of Kpone have embarked on a demonstration over the concerns raised.

Definitely, this will not be the last time if proactive steps are not taken to resolve the problems for good.

So long as the youth remain unemployed, they will seize the least opportunity to demonstrate.

It will be important for all companies on Kpone lands to allocate a quota to employ the youth of the community.

The companies can also team up and create a fund that would be dedicated to undertake development projects in the community.

 

GES MUST ACT QUICKLY ON THIS

Friday, 13 March 2015 08:31

Checks conducted by Weekend Finder in some schools in the Ashiaman metropolis indicate that most of the Private Schools in that metropolis lack toilet facilities for the pupils.

 As a result, pupils engage in open defecation in drains and in nearby bushes.

Not only does this pose a threat to children in these schools, but also brings to the fore issues of regulation in our schools.

 As pre-requisite for securing a permit to establish a school, it is thought that checks would be conducted by the authorities involved to ensure that basic facilities are in place.

It is however difficult top come to terms with the fact that schools could be operating without a facility as basic as toilet for their pupils.

Weekend Finder is of the opinion that, someone is sleeping on the job and needs to wake up to ensure that the proper things are done.

A couple of months ago, Ghana recorded its worse Cholera outbreak, an epidemic that needlessly claimed the lives of close to a thousand.

To think that, such a disease associated with basic hygiene should claim lives in such magnitude in the 21st century is shameful to say the least.

But the fact remains that we courted the disease with our insanitary behaviour and indiscriminate disposal of refuse.

Signs of the epidemic were on the wall after heavy rains consistently exposed most markets in Accra filthy. Foul smell of rubbish assailed the air as it sat by road sides and remained uncollected for days.

Few months down the line, it doesn’t seem we have learnt any lessons from the epidemic; we are back to our old ways. Our attitutudes towards environmental cleanliness have not changed and the city continues to wallow in filth in spite of the newly introduced sanitation day. 

Poor sanitation and waste management remain the most challenged issue facing the country, although the authorities are doing all it could to save the situation from getting out of hand, since it poses a serious health threat to residents of the country.

Open defecation continue to be a major problem and it is a common sight to see people easing themselves at seashores, parks and at times along the roads.

The inconveniences associated with lack of toilet facilities in various households is disheartening hence the urgent need for stakeholders to ensure that they step up the game of ensuring that both existing and new houses gets toilet facility installed in them.

It is estimated that only 23% of households have proper toilet facilities and this is not encouraging.

Things can only get  better if stakeholders including Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Landlords and tenants come together in ensuring that the laws that mandates every household to get lavatory is extensively adhered to.

 

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If I Were an Assembly Woman

Friday, 13 March 2015 10:57

The cancellation of the District Assemblies elections by the Supreme Court of Ghana leaves a lot of questions on the minds of many people. If I were an aspiring Assembly Woman, I will be very upset and frustrated at the news of the cancellation. 

Contesting elections in Ghana is one of the most challenging endeavors anybody can undertake.

Many things go into the campaign and contestantsfind it too stressful and very expensive.

Assembly men and women play a significant role in the socio-economic development of our communities. They spearheadand facilitate development projects.But if I may ask, if assembly members are so important especially forlocal governance participation and administration, why do we treat the elections the way we do?

 

Promoting the District Assembly elections is a hard sell because people don’t find it exciting. 

Isn’t it surprising that whilst the aspirants continue to increase, the voter’s gets less and less interested year on year?  For this reason creating awareness for the District Assembly elections has been a slow project which was just forcing to gather steam with the campaign very close to the date for elections. A vox pop done by many radio stations I listened to shows that people were not aware or just didn’t care.

 

Selling the presidential/parliamentary elections is not a difficult thing to do. It is an easily recognizable activity in the country and even children are roped into it in someways. As we speak, people are already making plans for it and I am sure different groups of people are already making suggestions and some analysis of how the elections will go and what will happen if it goes in favor of a particular party. Even Pastors have factored it into their prayer calendars.

 

Why this prominence is given to the presidential/parliamentary elections is easy to tell; of course it elects the President and out of it comes the Ministers and Members of Parliament.Stop a hundred Ghanaians in the streets and ask them when the elections will be held and you can bet that 8 out of every 10 will remember the date. Considering the importance of the District Assemblies to the democratic process, I wonder why not much attention is paid to it.

 

In my view, one of the reasons why Assembly members are not really seen or heard is because of their lack of visibility in the communities they serve. I have been around ever since the first elections, and I have lived in different communities but I cannot remember when I ever met an Assemblyman or woman; neither have I seen them ever coming to the community to solicit for ideas or to update the community on things happening in the area.

 

The other issue about it is the under-representation of woman in the elections and this needs to be improved. For the kind of decisions that are made at their level getting more women to participate will be great news. 

 

Unlike politicians vying for political power, the activities of Assembly men and women hardly receive the attention of the media. Some of them are completely unknown even though they are doing well. One of the obvious reasons is the lack of resources and party backing. In view of this, can we give a consideration to the idea of making the District Assembly elections partisan? Maybe this will ignite the excitement and active participation.

 

If we all took this seriously we wouldn’t come this far only for the elections to have been stopped because of constitutional issues.How do we expect people to take the whole exercise seriously when some of the aspirants themselves create jokes out of such serious exercises?I was amazed at a news I read online as one the aspirants was quoted as saying “due to the EC’s negligence, my constituents have chopped my banku and drunk Joy Daddy for free”, he bemoaned. 

 

So if I were an Assembly woman, I will do a few things in my community to make me more relevant and sanitation will be one of my key priorities. It would not cost much to create community fora to engage the communities on their needs and involve them in the solutions. Another big thing on my list issafety of children on the roads. What about community levies to improve sanitation?Assembly members can partner Churches and businesses to support development projects such as setting up of learning centers, reading clubs, building of community centers, parks etc. Can’t Assembly man or woman decide that once every month he or she will meet members of one other locality to discuss issues in thecommunity?

If assembly men and women do good jobs in their communities, people will remember them and advocate for them to be given better treatment and of course we will all be more excited about the elections and keep the dates in mind. 

 

A-G, Solicitor-General must answer

Monday, 16 March 2015 10:20

It has emerged that somebody within the Attorney-General's office leaked a key document to Alfred Woyome, a document which would later form part of the basis for the acquittal and discharge of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier.

The document in question is said to be a memo written by the Solicitor-General to the Attorney-General in which the former was advising against putting key officials involved in the scandal in the witness box because of the fear of being embarrassed.

That memo became the famous Exhibit 32 in the Woyome trial case.

Private legal practitioner, Ace Ankomah, who disclosed this on radio, did not understand how a confidential memo exchanged among the hierarchy of the A-G's office would end up in the hands of an accused person who will then use it to create loopholes in the prosecution's case.

Describing the A-G's office as a leaky one, Ace Ankomah argued that if an arsenal like the confidential memo ends up in the hands of the accused person, then it is only an opportunity handed on a silver platter to the accused to raise doubts in the minds of the judge.

 According to Ankomah, the selective use of the "Embarrassed Ministers’ principle", captured so vividly in the memo, is intriguing.

The question is: why did the ‘embarrassed Ministers’ principle’ only cover Betty Mould Iddrisu, Ebo Barton Odro, Paul Asemenu, who was legal advisor at the Finance Ministry at the time of the scandal, and Nerquaye Tetteh, Principal State Attorney, officials who were neck deep in the scandal?

This question begs for answers because former government officials under the Kufuor administration - Osafo Maafo and Yaw Manu - were thrown into the dock as prosecution witnesses without the benefit of that same ‘embarrassed Ministers’ principle.’

Why did the A-G’s office fail to rely on former Attorney-General Betty Mould Iddrisu, her deputy Ebo Barton Odro and other state officials who played key roles in what would become the Woyome scandal as witnesses because it feared the officers would be embarrassed in the dock?

Apart from embarrassment, what else is the Solicitor-General afraid of to warrant such an advice?

From what transpired during the prosecution, it is clear the A-G’s office obeyed the advice of the Solicitor-General.

It will be important for the A-G and the Solicitor-General to explain to the good people of Ghana why they prefer shielding such people at the expense of delivering justice.

From the above facts, the A-G’s office has done a poor job in the prosecution of Woyome as it has emerged that some other key documents were also no tendered in court.

The question many are asking is: why is it that private individuals have such important documents yet the A-G’s office did not tender them in court?

The investigative institutions must probe to find out how a confidential letter from the Solicitor-General got leaked and how Mr Woyome laid hand on it to tender it in court as evidence.

Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it! (Pt 1)

Monday, 16 March 2015 10:27

Having advanced the arguments for human rights and their linkage to the development of member nations in 1948, the United Nations soon realised that the Declaration of Human Rights was not adequately facilitating the development of member nations.  It has been 67 years since the Declaration was made. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it’. The United Nations is calling on all of us to picture it that empowering women is the more sustainable way to empower the whole of the human race. Champions of women’s rights, both women and men, have explained over and over again why we need to incorporate women’s rights in our development agenda to achieve a dignified life for girls and women. The clarion call in 2015 is to picture the empowerment of women and the benefits. What do we picture? 

 

Although the UN Commission on the Status of Women participated in drafting the Declaration and finally succeeded in making it more inclusive, the United Nations came to the awareness that after all human rights are not by default the rights of women. This began another crusade of awareness creation and a call for development planning that recognised rights of women as well. To draw this home and with a firmer hand, it declared 1975 as the International Women’s Year. The UN demanded that member states paid attention to women’s rights and asked members to create awareness on peace, equality and development and more importantly to integrate women into all levels of development. 

 

It has been 40 years since 1975 was declared International Women’s Year but we are still making arguments for the integration of gender into our policy formulation, development planning and monitoring. When are we going to decide on the next planning phase?  Why do the wheels of women’s rights and development move so slowly? The bare truth is that the God-given and society-assigned roles and responsibilities of men and women, girls and boys are not the same. These must be critically considered in policy and development planning. The bitter truth is that in resource allocation and utilisation, the gap between women and men becomes wider.  Do men and women not have the same 24 hours in a day? Do men and women farmers have the same opportunities following up with agro-input shops on when the subsidised fertiliser from government will be available? Expending so much energy collecting firewood, cooking the family meal and taking care of the children, women have little time to pursue productive resources for economic activity. She persists because the fertiliser supply system did not consider her other roles, which would eventually make it difficult to access resource and opportunities. These gaps in gender resource allocation and development make the call to picture the empowerment of women very urgent.  

 

To deepen the gains made within the International Women’s Year, the United Nations declared a Decade on Women (1976 – 1985) and has been following up the years for greater integration of women’s issues into development. The advocacy continued till the landmarked 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing that produced a comprehensive forward-looking strategy document to facilitate the integration of women into development. This was the Beijing Platform for Action. The document, described by the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as the most comprehensive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights, is still said to provide inspiration for the future. The 2015 observance focuses on what the achievements have been within 20 years of the Beijing Platform for Action and to chart a way forward. 

 

According to the Executive Director, no country has achieved equality, and progress has been slow and uneven. However, gender gaps in education, maternal mortality, morbidity and gender inequality have reduced. Yet it is more urgent than ever that we define and stick to a time frame. What timeline will you work towards as a reader of this article?

 

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has reported that Ghana has made some progress in securing the rights of women. The education sector has made some progress in achieving gender parity in school enrolment. The latest Education Sector Performance Report indicates that over the last two years the gender parity index fell from 1.03 to 1.01. To address the challenges of limited agricultural extension services, the adoption of Female Extension Volunteers (introduced by ActionAid Ghana) has increased women’s access to extension, services, especially in northern Ghana. The passage of the Domestic Violence Act, 2007, which received lots of advocacy support from ActionAid Ghana, has addressed gender-based violence and upgraded women’s rights institutions such as the National Council on Women and Development to a ministerial status. These are modest but significant achievements. 

 

As an award-winning women’s rights organisation, ActionAid will continue to make girls’ and women’s rights the centre of its activities when it launches its new Country Strategy Paper (CSP V) which would drive the organisation’s development agenda from 2015 to 2019.  ActionAid Ghana intends to advance the political influence of women and girls, reduce unpaid care work of women for sustainable livelihoods and decent work whilst addressing gender-based violence against women and girls to break the cycle of poverty. It will continue to work towards affirmative action and will venture into gender responsiveness in the extractive and mining sectors. 

 

The role of MMDAs in maintenance of WASH facilities

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 09:31

By Iddi Z. Yire 

The provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities by both government and development partners for the people also calls for their sustainability through regular maintenance by Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The recent appeal by Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, to the MMDAs to ensure the sustainability of WASH facilities is a laudable one which must be adhered to by all assemblies.

Sustainability is key to the long-term success of WASH services delivery, and this involves the commitment to continuously invest in the provision of new WASH infrastructure, as well as ensuring the maintenance of existing ones.

Ghana’s vision for the water and sanitation sector is “sustainable basic water and sanitation service for all by 2025".

According to the World Health Organisation/United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the performance of Ghana’s water sector indicates that 87% of the population used improved drinking water in 2012: 93% in urban areas and 81% in rural areas.

This shows that Ghana is on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It also gives credence to the fact that as a nation we hold in high esteem the sage that ‘water is life’.

One other issue of great concern, however, is the fact that progress towards the achievement of the target for sanitation lags behind.

According to the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), the current sanitation coverage is just 14%, which is very low compared to the set MDG target.

Despite the gains towards achieving the target for water, significant challenges remain in ensuring that new provided water infrastructure to deliver sustainable services continue well into the future.

Some of the key lessons on sustainability learnt from recent global pilots such as WASHCost and Sustainable Services at Scale (Tripple-S) projects show that at any time substantial proportion of water supply infrastructure is either not-functioning or functioning sub-optimally.

The impact of poor sanitation continues to take a heavy toll on people’s well-being and the economy more broadly.

The MDG target 10 aims at halving by the close of this year, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

This means providing potable water and sanitation facilities for communities and their schools, health facilities and households through constructing boreholes, hand-dug wells, and expanding urban water delivery systems.

As a nation, the time has come for us to consider moving away from one-off project-based approach to a more sustainable service approach that will last for a long period.

Investments in WASH facilities by both government and development partners should, therefore, take into account not just the provision of the facility but must incorporate the life cycle cost of the facility in the project design.

The government’s target of providing 20,000 boreholes at the cost of GH₵17 million from the Consolidated Fund over a five-year period will be better enhanced if the beneficiary MMDAs are made to see the project as national, which has to be periodically maintained to ensure its sustainability.

The MMDAs must consider setting aside a component of their annual budgets for the maintenance of WASH facilities to ensure that the efforts of government and development partners do not just become a nine-day wonder.

Based on national norms and guidelines, the CWSA has developed indicators and benchmarks for monitoring the performance of hand-pump and piped scheme water service providers, in terms of governance, operations and financial management.

The efforts by CWSA to ensure that hand-pumps in small communities and piped schemes in small towns are managed by Water and Sanitation Management Teams can be complimented by the MMDAs by giving them the needed support.

Aside government’s efforts in providing potable water to the citizenry, the contributions of development partners such as the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), the United States Agency for International Development, the World Bank, SNV, United Nations International Children’s Fund, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and other stakeholders in the WASH sector cannot be overemphasised.

To safeguard an effective WASH sector in the country, the activities of the various players should be harmonised through the establishment of a District Operational Manual to guide them in the sector.

Ensuring continuous WASH services to all populations is very critical, without which improved health outcomes for the investments made will not be achieved.

GNA