Friday, January 26, 2007

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra:Thoughts on...Africa Today; Kofi Annan in town

I was at the A&C Shopping mall this afternoon to have lunch, and had the opportunity to pass by one of the shops on the first floor to buy the Africa Today magazine, for a friendly-to-the-pocket price of ç20,000, or just under $US2.00. Having lunch afforded me the opprtunity to really do more than peruse the magazine. Here a few interesting facts I found:

  • p.5: Malawi's Lucius Banda, who is a musician-cum-MP was sentenced for 21 months for having falsified his high school certificate in order to stand as MP, but had his conviction overturned on appeal by Malawi's High Court

  • p.6: an interesting editorial "New era of cooperation" providing an interesting survey of how Joseph Kabila got to where he is today, but how he stillr emains mired in problems, especially with Bemba (obtaining a 42%) deciding to go to court to challenge the results of the election. The editorial praises dur process of decision to return to violence

  • pp.8-9: how Germany is putting a new focus on Africa, as it assumes presidency of the EU; and how climate change is critical; how the climate change most affects Africa, and how a UN report has some frightful prognostications that include how "if sea levels were to rise by one metre, part of Lagos in Nigeria would be under water"; and finally, under EVENTS, France declassifying Rwanda files, with survivors pointing serious fingers at the French for having explicitly supported Hutu killers

  • pp.24-25: how the G8 summit of 2006 flopped execrably to the extent that Nigeria was not---but South Africa was--invited to the former, including how 2007 will see a change of dramatis personae, what with Nigeria's Obasanjo due to go in May; Senegal's Wade trying to stand again for Senegal; Chirac out of power by June-July this year; and Tony Blair seeking to leave a legacy for Gordon Brown (incumbent UK finance minister) to follow on the Africa scene. More importantly, seeing the rise of the Asians, and t he impact of that for the G8 to re-strategise in their configurations

  • p.26: how the AU, in July 2006, mandated that Senegal prosecute former Chadian dictator (considered the "Pinochet of Africa")Habre...

  • ...and much, much more

  • Go grab a copy! Even if it is the December 2006 edition;-))

    It will no have escaped your attention perusing the Ghanaian blogosphere and Ghanaian online media that Kofi Annan, now immediate past UN Secretary-General, is in town, and delivered a what many consider to be "beautiful" and instructive speech at the launch of Ghana@50 Golden Jubilee lectures, which you can read more about here

    have a good weekend!

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    Taxi Tales#1: The driver's got Cheek!

    I am a taxi person in the sense that I move around Accra a lot by way of taxi. Very rarely will I use the tro-tro, and now that the Mass Metro buses are becoming de rigeur, and even the new Gold Cab services, which is based in Kokomlemle, some minutes from Busy Internet at Circle, or the so-called Silicon Valley street of Accra, is stationing itself conveniently in ECOBANK agencies, to name but one, around the capital, I STILL will take the taxi anyday for the convenience, and when the pocket is a bit lighter;-)

    The news that taxi drivers will be wearing uniforms is welcome news:

    With effect from 1st February, all taxi drivers in the Accra Metropolis will dress in uniforms of sea blue shirts and dark blue trousers.

    According to a press release issued by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, all taxi drivers in the Metropolis are also expected to pay ¢250,000 each to have an identification number embossed on the front doors of their vehicles.

    This amount, according to the release is been heavily subsidised by the AMA.

    The release noted that at a meeting held on January 18 this year chaired by the Mayor of Accra, Mr. Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, executives and representatives of the GPRTU, PROTOA, Cooperative Transport Union and COMTSA came to the above agreement between members of the transport sector and the AMA.

    The release explained that the identification number to be embossed on the taxi cabs would make for easy identification of taxis and help protect drivers from mugging and the frequent stealing of their vehicles.

    Any attempt to bring sanity into the capital must go down very well for a lot of denizens. All that said, it is for one of these reasons that I am introducing taxi tales to bring directly to you some of the less-than-mundane experiences and conversations I have with taxi-drivers.

    The first instance is yesterday when a taxi driver picked me up from the A&C Shopping mall. En route, his engine sputtered and came to a somewhat abrubpt stop. Opening the door, he went out to the engine for what seemed like a few minutes, came back and sparked the car. Off we went.

    Now, I was heading for equity pharmacy, in East Legon, where we went for some seven minutes.

    We got to the office, and I handed him ç15,000 (around Euros1.5), only for him to tell me that it wasn't enough, and that he wanted ç25,000!

    The effing cheek, I thought.

    So I asked him: "when your car sputtered on the road there, did I charge you?" He pretended he didn't hear [please note this characteristic of taxi drivers and commercial workers, when you tell them a truth, they will FEIGN BAD HEARING!!], asking "what did you say?"

    I pretended I didn't hear him, and told him I was giving him ç20,000--and would not be giving him the ç5,000 extra.

    He wasn't amused, but I certainly was;-)

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Remembering Ghana's this Jubilee Year

    With Ghana sitting on the cusp of historic change as it sets the stage for the ushering in of its Jubilee year, it is my earnest and sincere belief that the necessity to initiate a review of Ghana's regulatory agencies is critical. I had, in fact, been thinking of this last year, and went to the extent of listing some of them, which I'll post here shortly. In a somewhat serendipitous move in the direction of writing more about the country's regulators and their work--or lack thereof--I came across an article in today's Business and Financial Times about the National Petroleum Authority closing down 8 petroleum outlets that were unlicensed.

    "This is where we should be going", I thought. As you know, thoughts like these flash many people's thoughts many times a year, but translating it into a desire of exposing regulation--or non-performance of it--is not always at the fore.

    In 2007, and in my thirtieth year of existence, I'm about to try and reverse the trend of merely cogitating and arm-chair-strategising. I'm taking this renewed attitude into different manfestations of action that will feature on many of my other blogs. Within the next few days, you will find an outline of some of the new features that I will be incorporating into this blog, making it -- in the best way I can-- a blog to stop by--by hook or by crook. ;-) [You've gotta give it to me for humility, no?:-))))]

    an inset taken from my mobile phone of the article...

    Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    Well done, Bank of Ghana!...(We're 50 days to Ghana's 50th Anniversary!!)

    My parents and I were very happy yesterday evening to see this blue-and-yellow pamphlet, that is lying on my keyboard. It's from the Bank of Ghana, detailling the whys and wherefores of the re-denomination scheduled for July. In fact, ever since the announcement late last year of the redenomination of the Ghana cedi, such that
    10,000 Ghanaian cedis will become, as from July this year, 1 NEW Ghanaian cedi, there have been a number of (silly) jingles on the radio, and a banner (quasi-permanent) on the front page of the Daily Graphic newspaper, and other newspapers so that the public becomes used to the "conversion".
    This is what the government-supporting private paper, The Statesman wrote about it in its review of the year, 2006:

    "The biggest change in the Ghanaian economy of 2006 was the announcement of the new Ghana Cedi, which will be launched in July 2007. Four zeros will be knocked off our current currency, making one new cedi equivalent to ¢10,000 in today’s money."

    The pamphlet answers the following questions:

    1. why is there a need for redenomination?

    2. what is replacing the old notes and coins?

    3. what will be the relationship between the old and new notes and coins?

    4. will I lose value if I exchange my old notes and coins for new notes and coins?

    5. does it mean that the cedi is going to be devalued or revalued?

    6. what happens to the old notes and coins when the new notes and coins are introduced?

    7. what happens after the transition period?

    8. will this exercise lead to price increases?

    9. will this affect my wages and salaries?

    10. Simply put -- and I am deliberately referring to #5, which might be of relevance to non-Ghanaians -- from July going, $US1 will be equivalent to 92Ghanaian PESEWAS. This is if we are operating from the assumption that currently $US1=9,200 Ghanaian cedis.

    I find it all exciting.

    Without a doubt, when at the annual conference of the incumbent government--the New Patriotic Party(NPP)--that was held in the Eastern region at the beginning of the year, the President John A Kufuor said that the new currency would be equivalent (almost) to a dollar, it made the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)quiver in its boots. Just a bit.

    What I do know is that time is the only thing that will hold the real truth of it all...;-)


    Friday, January 12, 2007

    Happy New Year!!! (Better Late than Never...)

    Hello all, I know it's been a while; if you check my recent post (today 12 January, 2007) on Reflecting the Eccentric World of E.K.Bensah, you'll find that I am "under the weather".

    It is precisely for that reason I thought I ought to write something in here to let my regular readers and otherwise know that I am ok and haven't stopped the blogging enterprise!

    This is where the whole staff stayed from 17-21 December for our annual review. It's in the Central Region, a typically tourist region for all the greenery and proximity to the ocean...

    ...where I played some basketball with a colleague's son...

    ...worked out in the gym of Elmina Beach Resort for three mornings...

    ...and enjoyed the beautiful landscape set against the ocean.

    Great to be back in Accra, but definitely missing the place!

    May this New Year 2007 bring you ALL you desire and much, much more!

    have a good weekend!

    ; ; ;


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