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Private developer to complete and sell Saglemi houses

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Saglemi, houses, Newscenta, sale, private sector,
Francis Asenso-Boakye. Photo: MoI

The Minister for Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye (MP) has announced government’s decision to explore the possibility of selling the Saglemi Housing Project, covering the 1,506 housing units to a private sector entity to complete and sell at no further cost to the State.

He noted that the proceeds from the sale will come to the state and reinvested into government’s affordable housing programme.

To facilitate the processes, the sectr Moinister said, a Technical Working Team made up of professionals and experts has been set up to oversee and spearhead all engagements required for the completion of the project.

The Minister who made the announcement at the Minister’s Press Briefing said this is being done with the aim of ensuring transparency and accountability while guaranteeing value for money in the completion of the project.

The Saglemi Affordable Housing Project which was initiated in 2012 for the delivery of 5,000 housing units at a total cost of $200 million under an Engineering-Procurement-Contracting (EPC) Agreement with Messrs Construtora OAS Ghana Limited saw its original contract amended three times, effectively reducing the project scope to 1,506 housing units, despite $195.8 million ($195,854,969.52), representing 98% of the project funds having been expended.

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That notwithstanding, none of the 1,506 housing units were habitable, as the project was at various stages of completion and lacking basic amenities, such as water, electricity, and other related amenities.

Meanwhile, a technical assessment report by the Ghana Institution of Surveyors in September, 2020, valued the total cost of works on site at $64.9 million ($64,982,900.74).

As part of government’s commitment to forestall further deterioration of the project, Mr. Asenso-Boakye said the Ministry has been engaging Cabinet, the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice on the best viable options to complete the project.

Following a comprehensive assessment of the project, the Sector Minister disclosed that government will have to allocate additional financing of approximately $46 million to provide off-site infrastructure such as water, electricity, and storm drain, in order to make the housing units habitable.

“Additionally, there is the need to invest approximately $68 million to complete the buildings, and other essential on-site infrastructure works,” the Minister added.

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Owing to the huge discrepancies with the funds expended on the project, Asenso-Boakye disclose of government’s intent not to further sink tax-payers money towards the completion of the project.

While reiterating the sector Ministry’s commitment to ensuring a robust and sustainable development of public works and housing infrastructure, the Minister called for greater regard for rules and regulations governing the country’s settlement planning, and development control, while admonishing citizens to be more intentional in managing household solid waste.

Touching on the review of the Rent ACT, 1963 (ACT 220) and the Rent Control Law, 1986 (P.N.D.C.L 138), Mr. Asenso-Boakye said Cabinet, after extensive engagements on the draft Rent Bill, 2022, at its last meeting on 27th October, 2022, gave approval for the draft Rent Bill, 2022 and recommended same for the consideration of Parliament.

The Minister expressed the belief that Parliament will soon commence its engagements on the Bill to culminate in its successful enactment.

 

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Work begins on major policy for downstream aluminum industry

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GIADEC, policy, downstream, aluminum, cheap imports, electricity, green energy,

For the first time in Ghana’s history, government is developing a comprehensive policy to make Ghana an attractive destination for investment in the downstream aluminum industry.

Areas of focus

The final policy will cover a wide range of areas including incentives, taxation, cost of electricity, tackling cheap imports, address dumping and how to manage the value chain and the relationships among others.

Policy to address cheap imports

The policy will also address cheap imports to make local companies thrive to meet local demand and export to other countries.

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Utilisation of locally produced aluminum

The aim is to attract more companies to set up in Ghana and utilise locally produced aluminum to produce all kinds of products.

Why aluminum industry is essential to the economy

The aluminum industry is essential to the economies of modern countries and it provides a range of highly differentiated products, from the intermediate semis required for many high-tech industries to parts and components for final applications.

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Under the auspices of the Ghana Integrated Aluminium Development Corporation (GIADEC) stakeholders in the aluminum industries attending a 2-day workshop on downstream aluminum industry are reviewing extensive research, data collection and technical analysis of best practices across the world carried out by GIADEC and Overseas Development Institute (ODI), formerly known as the Overseas Development Institute with funding from the United Kingdom Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

Policy options and implementation plan

Participants are deliberating on policy options and implementation plan for the downstream aluminum industry.

Electricity constitutes over 32% of production cost

The Cost of electricity constitutes over 32% of production cost in the aluminum industry.

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Therefore, how to get electricity at the right price to support the industry will feature prominently in the policy.

Industrial transformation

Downstream is the heart that will drive industrial transformation and involves utilization of primary aluminum produced in Ghana.

Policy environment

GIADEC is preparing the policy environment for the incentive framework that will support the downstream industry.

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Locally produced aluminum to be utilised locally

The policy will make sure that majority of locally produced aluminum is utilised locally to grow the economy for the benefit of Ghanaians.

Steady progress of integrated aluminum industry

Opening the workshop, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, is optimistic that government’s quest to build an integrated aluminum industry in the country is on course, and progressing steadily.

Adding value to Ghana’s mineral resources

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He emphasised the need to add value to Ghana’s mineral resources to ensure optimal benefit from these resources.

Big price differentials of raw ore and primary aluminum

He pointed out that while the raw bauxite ore sells for around $60 per metric tonne while primary aluminum produced from bauxite sells for over $2,000 per metric tonne.

900m metric tonnes of bauxite 

The Minister puts Ghana’s estimated bauxite resource base at over 900 million metric tonnes.

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2m jobs, one trillion US Dollars

According to him, the total deposit is capable of creating some two million sustainable jobs, and generating over one trillion US Dollars in revenue if fully integrated.

Robust, functioning and vibrant downstream aluminum industry

Jinapor urged participants at the workshop to bring their expertise to bear, and fashion out with policy options and plans that will help build a robust, functioning and vibrant downstream aluminum industry that contributes, meaningfully to the economy.

Tertiary products are the most important

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Board Chairman of GIADEC, Dr. Anthony Oteng-Gyasi pointed out that converting bauxite into tertiary products constitutes the most important step in the entire value chain.

Mass production necessary

According to him, mass production is required to achieve the expected benefits and urged participants to develop a policy that will deliver results.

 Modernization and retrofitting VALCO

GIADEC’s Master plan will lead to the modernization and retrofitting VALCO smelter to produce about 300,000 metric tornnes of primary aluminum each year.

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Importance of aluminum to global economy

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GIADEC, Michael Ansah pointed out that the global economy is headed towards how aluminum is utilized and what is being done will propel Ghana to lead across Africa.

How aluminum will benefit vehicle assembling plants

He said the nine vehicle assembling plants operating in the country will need aluminum to produce and use Ghana as a launch pad to export to the rest of Africa and the world at large.

3-3.5 cent per kilowatt hour of electricity targeted

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He disclosed that the industry is looking for electricity price of three to three and a half cents per kilowatt hour to make Ghana’s industry competitive globally.

Cheap power to benefit downstream industry

When this is achieved, he said the benefit of cheap power will be passed on to local downstream industry.

Environmentally friendly aluminum

Ansah also revealed that Ghana is planning to use green energy to produce environmentally friendly aluminum which attracts higher price.

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VALCO producing 50,000 metric tonnes of aluminum

The GIADEC CEO said out of the about 50,000 metric tonnes of aluminum VALCO currently produces each year, only 7,000 metric tonnes is utilized by downstream while the rest is exported.

40,000 metric tonnes of aluminum products imported annually

This he noted is happening at a time the country imports about 40,000 metric tonnes of aluminum products each year.

Role of AfCFTA

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Dr. Max Mendez-Parra of ODI explained that the policy should focus on targeted policies for specific downstream industries and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a critical framework to achieve that.

ODI roadmap to 2035

Derrick Abudu of ODI said his outfit has developed a roadmap from now to 2035.

According to him, the roadmap seeks to achieve energy deal with competitive cost structure by 2025 which will in turn attract enormous investments from 2030 to 2035.

He noted that low cost of electricity will result in cheap aluminum supplied to the downstream.

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He said cheap inputs will automatically attract more investment since returns will be much higher.

Abudu stated that 20, 000 jobs can be generated while raking in revenue from exports of final products.

 

 

 

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Soldier slaps policeman provoking violent clash in Accra Central

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Soldier slaps police, Newscenta, violent clash, bullion van, Accra Central.

A violent scuffle ensued between Police and Military personnel near the Accra Regional Police Command yesterday creating fear and panic among the public.

An eye witness told The Finder that the scuffle was provoked by members of a military patrol team escorting a bullion van who slapped a police personnel not in uniform for not giving them way.

The eye witness who spoke on condition of anonymity explained that upon  the bullion van reaching the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) area, the soldiers in the patrol vehicle screamed at a motor rider  to give them way.

The eye witness said the motor rider responded that he is a police officer and this response infuriated the military personnel.

The eye witness told this paper that one soldier alighted from their vehicle and slapped the policeman who was not in uniform.

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The police officer quickly raise alarm and his colleagues at the Accra Regional Command premises rushed to his rescue.

According to the eye witness, the police personnel then detained the military personnel who slapped the police man.

The soldiers escorting the convoy attempted to resist the arrest of their colleague resulting in violent scuffle.

As at the time of going to press, details were still emerging but The Finder could not get the names of the police personnel slapped and the military personnel involved in the assault.

The Police and Military could not be reached immediately for their response.

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The Finder learnt that the soldier was granted bail yesterday evening.

The conflict between the military and police is not uncommon in Ghana and in most cases, it the soldiers who attack the police.

In 2010 for instance, tensions flared between soldiers and police officers in Kumasi, when separate assaults carried out by soldiers within two days left 12 police personnel injured and police property destroyed.

The attacks began after a police officer attempted to arrest a soldier riding an unlicensed motorcycle.

In 2019, police personnel and some soldiers clashed at the Suame Roundabout in Kumasi.

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This was after some police officers allegedly manhandled a plain-clothed military officer and handcuffed him.

The plain-clothed military officer was using an unregistered motorbike.

The military officer also called his other colleagues, who then attacked the police officers.

The soldier threatened to return with reinforcements and attack the police officer and made good on the threat later that day.

Over the next two days, more than a dozen police officers across the city were assaulted by soldiers.

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In 2018, some soldiers and police officers in the Upper East region flexed muscles Sunday in a row over a military uniform.

In the same year, a group of soldiers angry over the arrest of their colleague stormed Tamale in the Northern Region and viciously pummeled police officers on duty at various points and banks.

Personnel of the Counter Terrorism Unit of the Ghana Police Service and personnel of the Military on the Operation Motherland at Juapong and on the Adomi bridge also clashed in 2021.

There has been a long-standing split tension between police and soldiers which some security experts partly blames on the outdated nature of the security legislation governing their operations.

Due to some of these disagreements between police and military personnel in the past, there have been calls for reform to establish clear oversight mechanisms and delineate security roles for the police and armed forces in Ghana.

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Among the resolutions arrived at were the setting up of Police and Military memberships in all regions that host military bases, ‘for the purposes of overseeing the peaceful co-existence of both services,

The personnel are the custodians of arms meant to protect and defend ordinary people   and not to attack each other.

It appears there is a deep seated animosity between personnel of the two institutions.

It is untenable for them to turn the area into a battleground to settle personal scores.

 

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Finance

Kamala Harris: US to engage Ghana’s creditors for debt reduction  

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Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Vice-President of the United States of America Kamala Harris pledged the commitment of her country to engage the Paris Club of behalf of Ghana which is seeking debt forgiveness as part of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) balance of payment support.

According to her, the US will help Ghana with all the support it needs to ensure that it scales through its current economic crisis.

US fully support Ghana’s engagement with IMF

She indicated that the US is fully in support of Ghana’s engagement with the IMF and will push for debt reduction by the country’s bilateral creditors.

Biden administration to push for meaningful debt reduction

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She insisted that the Biden administration “will continue to push for all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that needed including Ghana.”

“We must work together as an international community to ease the debt burden that is facing far too many countries,” she added.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Joint Press Conference

The US Vice-President announced this at a joint Press Conference with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, at Jubilee House, Accra, after closed door discussions.

3-day state visit

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Harris, who arrived in Ghana on Sunday for a three-day state visit, is on a week-long trip on the African continent that would take her to Tanzania and Zambia.

US pledges support for economic recovery

She expressed the commitment of US to supporting Ghana to revamp its post-COVID-19 and Russia-Ukraine conflict impacted economy.

“We welcome Ghana’s commitment to reform its economy for sustainable and inclusive growth. “We support Ghana’s engagement with the IMF, and we will continue to push all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that need it.

“It is critical to do so to build long-term economic growth and prosperity and to increase US investments. Our partnership is already strong, and I believe that today we have strengthened it,” she stated.Harris believes this will enable Ghana successfully negotiate the bailout it is seeking from the IMF.

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Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Factors that adversely affected Ghana’s macroeconomy

The COVID-19 pandemic, rising global food prices, rising crude oil and energy prices; and the Russia-Ukraine war adversely affected Ghana’s macroeconomy, with spillovers to the financial sector.

Combination of adverse external shocks

The combination of adverse external shocks had exposed Ghana to a surge in inflation, a large exchange rate depreciation and stress on the financing of the budget, which taken together have put public debt on an unsustainable path.

$54bn total public debt stock

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Ghana’s total public debt stock stands at $54 billion, out of which $28 billion is owed to foreign creditors.

Ghana owes China $1.9bn

Out of Ghana’s $8.5 billion bilateral loans, about $1.9 billion is owed to China.

$3bn staff-level agreement reached in December 2022

In December 2022, the government reached a staff-level agreement with the fund and is now left with board-level approval before it can access the $3 billion support.

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America’s investment in wellbeing and prosperity of people

Harris assured that the US stands by its commitment to building on existing relations with Ghana, and working together to advance America’s investment in the wellbeing, health and prosperity of the people,” she stated.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

US resident advisor to assist Finance Ministry 

According to her, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) will deploy a full-time resident advisor to assist the Ministry of Finance to develop and execute medium-to-long-term reforms needed to improve debt sustainability and support a competitive, dynamic government debt market.

Building on debt restructuring efforts

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The project, according to the USA will complement and build on Ghana’s debt restructuring efforts.

To further support Ghana’s debt management, USAID is funding fellowships for a team of ten specialists to work within the Ministry of Finance, providing surge support for a two-year period.

The Fellows are all young, qualified Ghanaians and recent university graduates.

Strengthening public financial management

This project is part of OTA’s ongoing engagement to strengthen public financial management and financial sector oversight across sub-Saharan Africa.

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For 2023, OTA will execute 25 projects in 15 African countries.

This includes eight new projects in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Zambia in revenue policy and administration; budget and financial accountability; government debt issuance and infrastructure financing; banking and financial services; and economic crimes.

$100m to fight violent extremism and instability

The US Vice-President also announced the US government plans to commit $100 million support package for Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, as part of efforts to promote stability in the sub-Region.

At least $86 million in funding over three years will specifically be dedicated to the implementation of the new 10-year plan.

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The package forms part of President Joe Biden’s strategy to cushion the beneficiary countries financially to address violent extremism and instability.

The package, the U.S., Vice President explained, complemented an earlier strategic plan announced by President Joe Biden, for coastal West Africa, to prevent conflict and promote stability.

Kamala Harris, Newscenta, creditors, counter terrorism, investment,

Harris praises President Nana Akufo-Addo

Harris praised President Nana Akufo-Addo for his leadership in response to recent democratic backsliding in West Africa and standing up for democratic principles around the world.

“Under your leadership, Ghana has been a beacon of democracy and a contributor to global peace and security,”

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“Your leadership in particular and personal engagement have strengthened the ties between the diaspora and the continent. President Joe Biden and I are grateful to have you as a partner,” she said.

Strengthening partnerships across the African continent

The US Vie-President said the United States was strengthening partnerships across the African continent and “we are guided not by what we can do for Africa, but by what we can do with Africa and African partners on this continent.”

African voices critical to global peace and security

With African nations playing significant roles in global issues such as food security, climate crisis and resilient supply chains, she stressed that African voices, including that of Ghana, “are critical to global peace and security, including the defence of the United Nations charter.”

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President Akufo-Addo says meeting was successful

President Akufo-Addo described his meeting with the US Vice-President as “successful,” as both sides reaffirmed the commitment to collaborate further and provide mutual support at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

He said Harris pledged America’s support for Ghana’s transformative agenda, adding, “it is this transformation that would give us the best opportunity to derive maximum benefit from our abundant natural resources and enable us to create a firmer foundation for a meaningful long-term economic and commercial relations with the United States of America.”

The President said Ghana will continue to collaborate with the US at all levels towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts and in the search for global peace and security to promote sustainable development and growth

“My meeting with the US Vice-President this afternoon has further boosted the steadfast cooperation between the two countries,” he affirmed.

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He pointed out that although he was concerned about terror groups, he had no formal confirmation that al-Qaida was present in Ghana.

On a question on the operations of the Russian mercenary force, Wagner, in the region, President Akufo-Addo said he worried that the group could expand its footprint in West Africa.

“It raises the very real possibility that once again our continent is going to become the playground for a great power conflict,” Akufo-Addo said.

The President also rejected concerns about China’s influence in the region, insisting that Ghana’s relations with were separate from one another, and said the ties with America “is a relationship that has been close over several decades.”

Ghana determined to add value to its abundant natural resources

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President Akufo-Addo said the country was determined to add value to its abundant natural resources in order to lift the economy from dependence on foreign aid to a self-reliant one.

Harris inspects a guard of honour

On her arrival at the Jubilee House, Harris inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Ghana Airforce, and took the national salute, whilst a 21-gun salute boomed in the background.

President Akufo-Addo met her at the foyer of the Presidency, where the two exchanged pleasantries and retired to the ceremonial room for a tete-a-tete.

Both parties reaffirmed the strengthening of the relations and long-standing ties between the peoples of Ghana and the United States and affirmed their resolves to bolster those bonds of friendship and cooperation.

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The two leaders, with their delegations, held bilateral talks, where discussions centred on a range of global and regional issues, including democracy, good governance, and human rights; regional security; long-term economic growth and macroeconomic stability.

Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, were hosted at a State Banquet at the Jubilee House by President Akufo-Addo in the evening.

 

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