Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ghana Elections Hot Up Tonite!

On the way back to Accra from the Central region some two weeks ago, we were "met" by this noisy bunch behind our car, carrying what looked like the flag of the incumbent administration of the NPP in power...

As they moved closer, it was clear the boisterous boys in the car waving the flags were ineluctably supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Away they went into the capital. Quick glances of observors revealed some sycophants doing the kangaroo dance that has come to epitomise the motto of the party moving the country forward once they are re-elected on 7 December.

Tonight's presidential debates organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs will go some way to bringing into sharp relief where really the political temperature is at!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Easy Like a Sunday Afternoon in Accra

As we enter Accra, by way of WEIJA, through KASOA on a cool, breezy Sunday afternoon, memories of our visit and sojourn to Cape Coast almost seems like a dream.

Though there is plenty of greenery around, it is in significantly lower numbers than in the Central region.

Kokrobite meets us with a warm sunshine that is in stark contrast with the rain-like weather. The toll both man surprises as when he charges 5 pesewas, prompting us to wonder what could be done with such a smmall amount?


sun is accompanying the cool weather in a coalition of the willing that seeks to both welcome us back to Accra, and remind us there remains vibrancy in the heart of the capital that is Accra.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yawns this Side of Midnight: An Ode to GBS

Yeah, am certainly tired, but I am a snapshot-of-life freak, so something's gonna give. If that is my sleep, then so be it.

Let us start with Gateway Broadcasting Services (GBS), the satellite provider that stormed what looked like Accra only a year ago. Twelve months on, it has pretty much stormed the nation. Or at least the Central region. Forget the fact that GBS has a huge billboard here, [continuing Saturday morning as sleep became me!] GBS can be found at the Shell Shop in the quintessentially-historic market town of Mankessim; around some hotels and houses dotted around the region,

including this hotel here.

The hit-show "Bones" that I believe is its third season or so in the US, which features former "Buffy the Vampire slayer" brooding-but-reformed-vampire-lover-of-Buffy played by David Boreanz, was on last night on "G-series" to an audience of, erm, who knows? Point is, it was on; with the DsTV package looking like it has been cancelled, or expired.

Looks like the GBS Revolution is on!

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Several Mosquitoes and a Funeral Wake in Cape Coast

It's 20h14 and the folks n i are sitting outside on the yard of a house on top of a hill. We have been subjected 2 loud, gospel music, and are one of many groups keeping wake 4 a relative's elderly daughter who passed on a few weeks ago. But we r also, despite our long-sleeves, being viciously bitten by mosquitoes on this rather-humid nite in Cape Coast.

To say it's not easy is an understatement; no funeral or wake-keeping is! As it turns 20h40, u can certainly bet ur bottom-dollar that by the time this is received thru mtn 2 my ogo device 4

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Friday, October 10, 2008

From Kasoa to Winneba, Road Safety Matters!

Despite our travelling speed of around 80km/hr, we managed to get to Winneba in some 46 minutes. Without the slow-moving vehicle at one point, we would have gotten to Winneba in some 40-42 minutes . Just goes to show that it is virtually impossible to travel from Kasoa to that place in less than forty minutes!

Armed with that knowledge, we can move to road safety. On our way, we saw a taxi Accra-bound that was overspeeding, AND overtaking over a blooming rumble strip! Not too far away was the same sign exhorting drivers to kill their speed.

I reckon the signs should simply be bigger and more imposing. Though it looks like a cross when you are Cape Coast-bound, it has TOYOTA GHANA kind of hammered on the back. Even if it is supported by the latter, it would have been great being supported by the National Road Safety Commission (

ONETOUCH adds a nice touch to road safety with its exhortation to "drive home safely to a warm hug".

Cute, but i nsufficiently hard-hitting.

Cool breezes @ 17h09.

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Greenery Galore Through Central Region's GOMOA

It has just gone 16h19, and we have just arrived into the town of GOMOA. This is greenery personified--but so is much of the Central region through to Mankessim and Cape Coast.

Buduburum camp as we pass by has developed considerably, looking very much like any place inside Accra. With the NPP flagbearer's poster flanked high and strong at the former Liberian refugee camp base, you gotta wonder where the Liberians-in-Ghana vote might go.

We just passed a sign that reads "overspeeding kills. Over 12 people díed here". Very telling, considering the song by Akon--"dangerous".

At 16h28, we have all lived through a nanosecond of irony, with a tro-tro that just overtook some four cars, including ours, past a sign on the southbound (Accra) road that says the same thing as the sign referred to above.

Food for thought!

At 16h32, we are all struck by the imperfection of the road: a beautiful, well-tarred road that has no streetlights, or fluorescent signs for when it gets dark!

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LaPaz Traffic Makes one Soporific

For as long as I remember, travelling through LaPaz, through Mallam is a major headache, on accou nt of the time spent in what seems like interminable traffic

It is some 15h14, and CITI FM's Shamima Moslem and her colleagues are discussing how the Central region is preparing for the December elections.

One man, Maxwell, from Agona Swedru says that he is tired with the NPP and is fed up with them. Another is also saying the same thing, wondering how they were able to afford the GHC25,000 for filing fees for the primaries last December, as well as the unfulfilled promises...

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Spintex Road Diaries: Smooth Traffic Confuses Me

Children are back to school, and it rained yesterday, so how come the traffic is so deliciously smooth? Not that I am complaining or anything, but I am profoundly quized by the absence of a bottleneck this side of 6.45pm...

We can only hope both shared taxis and cars are able to ply this smoothly from hereonin!

Looks like a minute later, I might have spoken too soon, There is a tipper truck in front of us that was speeding, which is now virtually crawling.

This is what I am used to. Don't spoil my fun!

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Midnight Reflections:Pas le cas d'un mauvais qu'art d'heure!

It's some few minutes to 1 o'clock;I am listening to a repeat of CITI Eyewitness news, where footballer Stephen Appiah is promising Ghana will score massively. I guess it is against Lesotho?

I must preface all this to simply add that this new-found freedom of mobile blogging is profoundly exhilirating; it has certainly revolutionised my blogging experience!

So much so that I can safely say here that the space I had originally used for was to say that there is a GBC School that needs to be looked at!

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Spintex Road Diaries: Rain Becomes Us

It is times like these when you realise there truly is a Higher power. If not, how do you explain people running helter-skelter just to avoid the rain?

It surprised us this afternoon, though it duly gave us a warning, what with the dark clouds and all. Still, colleagues and neighbours alike could not quite believe their eyes when the downpour veritably came, and put paid to any attempts to go into town, and wherever necessary, home.

It's 18h18, and the rain has subsided considerably. Looks like the raincoats stay close to the chest tomorrow!

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Great Idea ECG, Shame about the Delivery

The lights came back on to a quietly-jubilant neighbourhood around 5pm-ish, after a rather hellish couple of hours without it. All I can say is that whether you have a generator or not, the point is at a time when global prices have not gone southwards, lights off is a totally unnecessary enterprise.

So, when the saviour of Electricity Company of Ghana's call centre , which is an 18-hr operation that can be contacted at 021.611.611, advertised last week in the main daily GRAPHIC that it was going to service Ghanaians--albeit in Greater Accra and Tema for now--you had hope that they would do more than tell you a problem "has been reported" about the electricity. Which is exactly what the operator did this morning when it went off. They asked my name, making me feel instinctively that they would get back to me.

They didn't.

This is inconsistent with the staff of ECOBANK's call centre(toll-free), which has almost always gotten back to me on a query. Even the members of staff at the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission(PURC) call you back after investigating an electricity complaint

Regrettably, it is attitudes like ECG's that perpetuate the myth that the private sector is everyone's saviour, whilst the public is red-tape driven.

At a time when the State is showing a resurgence even in the US, ECG better sit up fast!

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Underwhelming Close of Sixth Session of ACP Summit

I came in some twenty minutes ago to see Preident Kufuor and a mini-phalanx of diplomats leaving this frightfully-chilling hall. I got wind that there was no press conference to end the whole affair, which also means that the twice-postponed press meeting with the Ivorian diplomat fell through in a radically-twisted way.

These ACP guys must have a twisted sense of humour, because if they think this is the way of promoting transparency, accountability and whatnot, they better do a double-take.

Many of us are not amused. Even the delegates who stood almost-useless outside the foyer wondered what on Earth merited some of the discussions to be closed-sessions? Can anyone help?

The ACP Group needs a serious revision of how it does things. This does not make those of us hawkishly watching the EPA discussions encouraged that they can go onto better things!

They get a C+.

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Commentary on Closed Session of Closing Session

12h24: acp group should work towards lasting peace in Sudan (nuhue)

JAMAICA: unstinting support of all acp states for peace efforts in Sudan. Has a unwavering commitment to people of Sudan. Should not confuse matters of Sudan to matters over ICC, which jamaica subscribes to.

NIGERIA: Concerns over paragraph five. especially paragraph three on non-interference of states. for a distinguished body like this, language should not be tautaologous and language be overkilled.

who says that tomw we might not consider sanctions to bring pressure to bear on level of intl behaviour. want paragraph five deleted.

TUVATU? section two on sustainable devt. change be made...(wording on climate change).

CUBA: sorry, no access to headphones.

SUDAN: parag number 7. noted statements by Jamaica. statement consistent with arab league and african union. what is important is peace process in sudan. the indictment of Bashir could create problems. Necessary to keep paragraph and add other[which one?] one...

KENYA: security, peace and justice should not be overlooked. icc indictment will frustrate regional peace. clause seven should start as it is.

BENIN: paragraph 23: propose to add ..want to add another paragraph on AID EFFECTIVENESS...

ZIMBABWE: paragraph five and seven....

????-ask for suspension of ICC arrest warrant

SOUTH AFRICA retain parags five and seven. the use of sanctions. must as an act of solidarity, retin parag five. all potential parties in sudanese conflict...

ERITREA: express solidarity. retain paragraphs five and seven as is.

12h59 out of here. plenty deliberations over Sudan. And EPAs?

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Inside Closed Session of Closing Session

CARIFORUM: saw epa as a package,are of the view that it liimited market access will not be in best interest of cariforum. at 12h20

kufuor speaks: would urge quickly to get declaration ready. i propose that we take the declaration as a whole, listen to it as a whole and discuss.

someone is speaking? who? [located behind a flag up on the balcony, next to two sleeping security guys]

declaration is bein read out. Declaration in four parts..
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The Strange Case of the Elusive President

Fact is: it is not so strange, and the Sudanese president as not as elusive as the title might suggest. Who can blame me, though, when I see someone reading a GHANAWEB article with bold headline "Al-Bashir Skips Town", and I ask for a copy?

As I freeze my behind in this excessively-cool air-conditioned PRESS CENTRE located in a tent adjacent to the press conference on the final day of the ongoing Sixth Session of the Brussels-based ACP Group, clearly, someone is feeling the heat!

It appears the only reason why Bashir was able to make his speech yesterday on Ghanaian soil has everything to do with the fact that the Sudanese president was assured by Ghanaian authorities that he would not be arrested, despite the fact that he was on the soil of an INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT county.

I am suddenly reminded of Charles Taylor who was arrested by Nigerian authorities in 2006, not too far from Cameroun. It coincided with the witnessing by Ghanaians of the country's first solar eclipse in many decades.

Even the stars might have been mad at his blaze of gory in his home country of Liberia!

In that instance, too, Ghanaian authorities refused to arrest the man when he came to Ghana.

Do you smell a pattern of pusillanimity here, or simply a desire to maintain positive diplomatic relations-- something the late former Foreign Secretary of the UK Robin Cook called "constructive engagement"...

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6 ACP Summit--Final Day: So Near, Yet So Far (on EPAs)

I think it might be stretching it a bit to think that expectations might be raised. Currently sitting at the press centre, waiting for the press conference of the Ivorian minister on the EPAs. Should draw quite a crowd. Two of my colleagues are here, waiting to filter the technical aspects of the EPAs through the lens of the minister's utterances, I am sure. Or is that the other way round?

The picture shows a snapshot of the entrance of the doorway to the plenary meeting, which has been closed session since yesterday. The guys inside have special badges, " CLOSED SESSION". Even Dr.DICK Naezer(sp)of the EU delegation here in Accra was

stopped by security, as he went along with his colleague.

My colleague and I speculated that he will most likely bulldoze his way through the meeting this morning, which is supposed to be on FUTURE OF THE ACP GROUP.

The guy to the left of the picture is a journalist who is based in Abidjan. Don't know his name. All I know is the anecdotal information of EU Development Minister Louis Michel having had his stomach stapled, giving him the slimmer appearance, and how "despicable" a character he is. I always knew that;-) The lady to the right is a Balgian journalist who was keen to get a background of the guy on the left. I swear I was not eavesdropping. Being so close as I am, any information is great, dontcha think?

It's 10h17. Press conference ought to start soon! Before I go, let me show you a snapshot of the edition of Graphic Business of this past Tuesday:

It might all be about the money, but it's certainly all about the EPAs now!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

President Kufuor of Ghana Speaks

He says thanks for condolences expressed for late Baah-Wiredu.

Ghana to take over for the next two years from Sudan. [I see ECOWAS president Ibn Chambas listening attentively to the speech] Kufuor is talking about the need for fair international trading systems, which he acknowledges is non-existent. Aid has tended to be given as charity. These shortcomings have incapacitated Ghanaians and ACP countries.

Kufuor is talking more about subsidies than epas. In broaching the issue, he, too, has mentioned reciprocity. How would the eu take up our dilemma [of what?]

Sir John Kaputin, we wish u well. Summit is now opened at 11.31am

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Sudan President speaks, talks of "simmering cold war"

EPas have ignored development, they have proved that no meaningful devt can be achieved without systemic resolution of crisis in international system. Need better control of natural resources, and debt relief, among many things.

Situation in Darfur: ICC arrest warrant undermines peace process! In a sense, move is politically-motivated. want to settle conflict through negotiations...confident that with President Kufuor's vision, ACP objectives will be realized.

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Glennys Kinnock Speaks on Perfect Storm of...

She wants us to be clear on the turmoil. Weaker countries need assistance. In 2008, need more of the technology that is needed to resolve crisis. Mud-cakes are being given to children in Haiti. Many children die a yr from preventable diseases.

Military-spending would lift everyone out of poverty. UN summit last week was encouraging. Sixteen billion dollars pledged. Neeed to put in context of food crisis. Figures released by UN last week suggest only portion has been fulfilled. You know aid works, and it menas fewer children are dying. Promises must be kept. Many will not meet MDG 1, never mind MDG 5, which is on maternal mortality.

Investment needed not by luck or osmosis. Effective choices needed. There is no silver bullet.

Fr?m the outset, EC has focussed on epas as FTAs, with repition of mantra of reciprocity. If between equals, then fine! There are also concerns on

process, and serious anxieties for regional integration.

The ACP has in its ranks some of the poorest countries. EU council in June said...CARIFORUM EPA signed. ACPs need to be vigilant, and the EU should show flexibilty. This is on the cards in the Caribbean.

Global regulation needs to be strengthened. Addition of further devt before onset of liberalisation. Testing times, but times that require mutual respect.

Stepping down from podium to reveal a diminutive figure, she prompts a warmer clap for a rather powerful speech. Sudan president is about to speak in Arabic. Headphone alert!

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Opening Ceremony of ACP 6 Summit

It is 10h23, and the ACP Secretary-General Sir John Kaputin is about to make his speech. He says it is a priviledge and an honour to deliver preliminary remarks at this august summit.

He wants to express gratitude to the peoples of Ghana and the prez, being grateful for the warm reception being accorded since his arrival to beautiful ciity of Accra.

ACP Group has been involved in many different activities since Khartoum mtg, etc.

Yeah, the World Bank guy and UNICEF lady are here; I
would suppose the European commission is here as well. Press is in their large numbers here. I am seated fortuitously next to a lady I saw on tv last night reading TV Africa news--none other than my GHAJICT colleague Veronica Kwablah, who is listening attentively to the speech by Kaputin, as I type away on this OGO device to

bring you some of the highlights of the acp gathering.

Again, I learnt last night that --yeah, EPAs have been mentioned right now, and right now the guy is talking about aid effectiveness. yeah!--the wireless is only available in the registration tent. One wonders what the guys there would need it for??

Kaputin continues that missions to fiji, sudan and djiboutou have highlighted importance of intra-acp

Fact-finding mission will go to Mauritania. On a positive note, Togo and Sudan have assumed normal relations with the European Union.

The ICC indictment has caused some friction regrettably in Darfur. Negotiation on EPAs have concerned grouo for a copnsiderable number of time. Process have split states that have initialled full epas, with some saying no. He hopes way can be smoothed on epas. This impt topical issue is on the agenda, he maintains.

10h37--is it me or does Kufuor look sleepy? He was looking down at something till Kaputin inhis address went "Mr.President,...", prompting him to turn towards the speaker's direction on the podium! With all that travelling he has been doing, he naturally must be itching to get up, don't you think? Behind me, looks like some elderly-looking man has just found joy in annoying some of us with a strident ringtone.

As the press both listen attentively to, and pretend to listen to and look serious at what Kaputin is delivering, a quick scan reveals that people seem to be listening, altough I see quite a number are dozing off. Oh well.

People will get ready to clap as Kaputin thanks the President for his kind attention.
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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Osu Traffic Leads me to Salvation

The promised land is one free of traffic and taxis blasting cacophony from vernacular-speaking radio stations. But let us not get too religious on you!

Would you believe it if I told you I was just listening to some very strange hiphop music on 87.9 Atlantis Radio FM. It comprised someone humming monotonously in the

background of the song, whilst the lead singer rapped "I'm not sick; I'm ill..."


We have just meandered through Osu, by way of the Accra International Conference Centre, and now onto 37 road that goes to Tetteh-Quarshie, It is six mins past six, Here comes the Spintex Road!

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Reason for Delay of Start of Joint ACP MOFA and Council of Ministers Meeting Clarified

A few minutes ago, the chair of the meeting came to explain in French that they are duly sorry for the delay of the meeting, but key ministers of foreign affairs and others are battling out some issues around the document for the meeting. We have been asked to exercise patience, I guess.

In the meantime, I found out that the person I am sitting next to is no less than the ambassador of Togo to Brussels. He

is an affable-looking man, wearing a grey, pinned-stripe sut-like thingy. I only know, because some francophone guys came up behind me a few days minutes ago, introducing the ambassador of Côte d'ivoire here in Accra to him.

On a positive side, my colleagues--registered as delegates-- are capitalising on the tardiness of the meeting to do some serious lobbying of ministers around the EPA. I see one of them articulating a point to a Tanzanian diplomat.

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6 ACP Summit--Day Two: Raw Deal for the Press

I got into town to the Accra Conference Centre on a day after the public holiday to heavy traffic, coupled with the cacophonous noises of siren ushering commuters and motorists alike to move way for the oh-so-important delegates (comprising mostly ambassadors) to head to the AICC on a day that will see the joint meeting of ACP Council of Ministers along with the ACP Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Yet again, the meeting is late.

If we forget the fact that the Press were politely asked to wait for delegates to get a bag before they could come for one, or the fact that local press is not factored into the free lunch, or even coffee break, we could simply sigh a huge one and get on with our business.

But there is more: the press is not getting the documents from the ACP press person Robert Irago (somehow, since yesterday, he has not been able to coordinate the distribution of material for them!) as expected. The ushers are unable to give us the documents we need to be able to read between the lines for the necessary reporting we need to do. Is it any wonder the Ghanaian press sometimes behave so mediocre?

Here is yours truly who is profoundly interested in what he is here for, but starved off information to do my job! Who can blame me when a neglectful minister or ambassador not here on time comes to his seat to find no documents:-) At least, some of us will put it to good use!

Speaking of which, I have the following documents here as I type this in the plenary hall, which regrettably has no wireless!! They are: [<i>le reunion va demarrer dans cinq minutes</i>] * DRAFT ELEMENTS OF THE ACCRA DECLARATION; *CONTRIBUTION OF THE ACP CIVIL SOCIETY TO THE 6TH SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT IN ACCRA (GHANA); *Draft agenda of the joint meeting of the acp council of ministers of foreign affairs to be held on Wednesday 1 October 2008 from 9.30 to 13.00 in Accra, Ghana.; *report from the council of ministers to the 6th acp summit of heads of state and government on the implementation of decisions of previous summits and important developments relevant to the acp group.

It is now some 29 minutes after 10. All sorts of people are standing up smiling to people both fake and genuine smiles. You know here that the laptops that are open are for serious business as the wireless is not set up in the building (unlike at UNCTAD XII in April).
Be-spectacled delegates of the slim,thin, fat, and pot-bellied type move around at all sorts of paces. The head table where the ACP SG and Assistant SG are seated are empty, with no signs of where they could be. The five minutes asked for is long-past, and it remains unclear when we are starting. Just overheard a member of the Ghanaian press sitting behind me that "they will hand over the chairmanship of the ACP to Ghana..." Unsure what that is about.

We live in hope--and plenty of it!

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