Tag Archives: Ghana

Ghana: EU sends Observation mission

In response to an invitation by the Electoral Commission of the Republic of Ghana, the European Union (EU) will deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the general elections scheduled for 7 December 2020. (Image: Ghana, Elmina port)

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Mr Javier Nart, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.

“The deployment of this Election Observation Mission confirms our long-term commitment to supporting peaceful, credible, and transparent elections in Africa and elsewhere around the world. Under the leadership of Chief Observer Mr Javier Nart, the EU EOM will provide an independent assessment of the electoral process and work together with Ghanaians to strengthen further the country’s democratic institutions” High Representative Josep Borrell said.

“It is a great honour for me to lead this Election Observation Mission, which I assume with a great sense of responsibility. For the third time the EU accompanies the election process in Ghana and I trust that state authorities, political parties and all candidates will play their part in promoting a peaceful and credible process” The Chief Observer, Javier Nart, said.

The Core Team of the EU Election Observation Mission consists of 9 election experts who will arrive in Accra on 31 October and stay until the completion of the electoral process. On 7 November, 40 Long-Term Observers will join the mission and will be deployed across Ghana’s 16 regions. Their capacity will be reinforced by up to 30 locally recruited Short-Term Observers on election day.

After election day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement and hold a press conference in Accra. A final report, including recommendations for future electoral processes, will be presented and shared with stakeholders after the finalisation of the entire electoral process.

This EOM is the EU’s third EOM to Ghana after two in 2008 and 2016, as well as an Election Follow-up Mission in 2019.

The EU has a long-standing partnership with Ghana. We share a broad common agenda to promote regional economic integration, peace and security, democracy, rule of law and human rights as well as to tackle global challenges.

EU supports cocoa producers

Brussels, 23.09.2020 “The construction of the new industrial complex will allow the local processing of one million tons of cocoa against 650,000 tons today, the creation of jobs, the increase in State revenues and the strengthening of the economic growth of our country” Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara said, at inauguration of the event. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana account for almost two thirds of world cocoa output.

The cocoa producers also attracted attention of the EU, the biggest importer of the African cocoa beans, on average consuming almost a half of the produced amount. This week the European Commission has launched an initiative to improve sustainability in the cocoa sector. A new multi-stakeholder dialogue brings together representatives of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – the two main cocoa producing countries accounting for 70% of global cocoa production – as well as representatives of the European Parliament, EU Member States, cocoa growers and civil society. The dialogue aims to deliver concrete recommendations to advance sustainability across the cocoa supply chain through collective action and partnerships. The new dialogue will be supported by technical assistance for cocoa producing countries.

“The cocoa sector is important for the EU and our trading partners. Today’s launch of the multi-stakeholder dialogue for sustainable cocoa will help to guide the sector’s recovery from Covid-19, while also finding solutions to existing sustainability challenges. We plan to develop concrete recommendations on sustainable cocoa as trade is not only about growth and profits, but also the social and environmental impact of our policies,” executive Vice-President and acting Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“When we talk about cocoa, sustainability is key” said Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. “Lifting up the three pillars of sustainable development in one go – social, economic and environmental – is possible. We stand ready to act as an honest broker to create the foundation of a new international framework for sustainable cocoa.”

A series of thematic groups set under the multi-stakeholder dialogue will meet between October 2020 and July 2021 to: discuss ways to encourage responsible practices of EU businesses involved in cocoa supply chains;
feed into other relevant ongoing Commission initiatives, including on due diligence and deforestation;
feed into the policy discussions between the EU and the involved cocoa producing countries: Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana; guide the European Commission in the design and deployment of support projects on sustainable cocoa production.
A plenary session in autumn 2021 will take stock of progress and a public report will review progress on the recommendations and lay out further steps to be taken.

The dialogue corresponds to the EU’s political priorities under the Green Deal and the Commission’s ‘zero tolerance’ approach to child labour. It also builds on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana’s joint initiative of June 2019 on a minimum price for cocoa on the world market and the Living Income Differential that they put in place with representatives of the cocoa and chocolate industry to ensure decent revenue for local farmers.

The new initiative for sustainable cocoa is part of a broader set of the European Commission’s measures to address sustainability issues horizontally and within the sector. They include a policy dialogue with Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to make sure that increase of prices is linked to actions halting deforestation and eliminating child labour in cocoa supply chains.

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s largest exporters of raw cocoa, generating some 60% of global exports (ITC 2020). Cocoa is a major contributor to export earnings, as well as the main source of livelihoods for up to six million farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Indirectly, cocoa contributes to the livelihoods of further 50 million people (UNCTAD 2016). At the same time, cocoa production entails particular risks relating to child labour, low revenues for local farmers, deforestation and forest degradation.

The European Union is the world’s largest importer of cocoa, accounting for 60% of world imports (ITC 2020). Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are major suppliers of cocoa into the EU market, to which they have duty-free and quota-free access under their respective Economic Partnership Agreements.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo signed the Abidjan Declaration back in 2018, thereby creating “an OPEC for cocoa”. Through this partnership, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – which together produce 65% of the world’s cocoa – will harmonise their sales policies to have greater impact and increase their earnings.

Back in July 2019, Côte d’Ivoire’s Coffee and Cocoa Board (CCC) and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) successfully imposed a pricing mechanism to help producers earn a living wage. Their suspension of forward sales of cocoa beans had such a negative impact on global prices that, in less than a month, chocolate traders and makers agreed to the idea of a $400 a tonne premium on all cocoa sales contracts.

Mali opposition demands power immediately

Mali’s military coup leaders must hand over power to a civilian transitional government immediately, the chairman of the West African regional bloc said on September 15, as a deadline expired for the ruling junta to appoint interim leaders. (Image above: social media).

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed economic sanctions after the August 18 coup d’état overthrowing the unpopular President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and said a new president should be appointed by August 15.

However the officers have concluded the charter that says the interim President of Mali can be a military or a civilian and has not yet indicated when the new government would be named, which should work towards organising free and fair elections in the period of 18 months.

“That country can no longer afford any delay in putting a responsible government in place,” the ECOWAS chairman said.

The leaders, representing 15 West African states did not inform about the consequences of failing to meet the deadline. The existing sanctions include border closures and the suspension of financial transations.

The Charter approved at multi-party talks in Mali also calls for an 18-month transition, but at present extraordinary reunion in Ghana ECOWAS leaders said that new elections should be held within a year.

The same day Malian media announced news of death of former President Gal Moussa Traoré, 84, who led Mali beween 1968-1991. Late Mr.Traoré was an army general.

Ghana President Akufo-Addo elected Chairman of ECOWAS

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo,77, has just been elected as the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the ongoing 57th ECOWAS Summit, which is being held in Niamey, capital of Niger.

The announcement has been made by Ghana government. The summit is being held at the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre, where leaders will be considering reports form the 44th Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council at the Ministerial Level and the 84th Ordinary Session of the Ecowas Council of Ministers, which preceded the Summit, among others.

Among first to congratulate the President has been his wife Mme.Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of Ghana.

In his own country, Ghana, President Akufo-Addo has been not spared from sharp criticism. The Minority in Parliament has dabbed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ‘Messiah of corruption’ following the missing excavators scandal.

The President, the Minority said, is the epicenter of all the corrupt deals and plain thievery occurring in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Alghouth Ghana is assessed among the least corrupt African countries, the
Ghana’s anti-graft body, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), which is Transparency International’s Local Chapter, has announced that the country “loses close to US$3 billion to corruption annually,” according to GhanaWeb news portal.

The outlet cited GII Executive Director Linda Ofori-Kwafo, who stressed that successive governments have attempted to minimise corruption through “moral crusades to uphold high ethics, the confiscation of properties found to have been acquired through corruption or public reforms,” but that there is still a long way ahead to fight the problem.

Ghana: «witch camps» controversy

In Ghana an elderly woman was lynched accused of whitchcraft. She didn’t survive the beatings, but some of women who survive the ordeal are sent away or flee to places called “witch camps“.

The recent murder of 90-year-old, Akua Denteh has caused an international outrage. Dentah was accused of being a “witch” by a local fetish priest and as follows was beaten to death in the village of Kafaba near Salaga in northern Ghana. Video of her violent death was posted online. Five people were arrested in the cause of the murder investigation.

The debate on witch camps closure in not a recent phenomenon. Almost a decade ago in 2011, the government announced it would shut down the camps, but they are still there. Contrary to human rights activists demands, the 2012 report by ActionAid gave a piece of advice to the government to restrain from swift action, insisting that for many women these camps offer a refuge, instead of lynching and imminent death. Since the issue came to pubic attention again in a dramatic context of the violent murder of an elderly women, the government and gender ministry are being urged to ensure the definitive closure the camps across the country.

The request of closure concerns also so-called “healing centre” which was established a year ago in Pulmakuom, Pusiga District of the Upper East Region, by father and son Rufai Sumaila. At their settlement near the Ghana-Togo border these self-styled natural healers claim to identify and heal women accused of being witches. They insist that they practice exorcism successfully, diverting women from of exercising the witchcraft, and with the activity of the centre they harmonise community life.

All persons who feel unwell, searching for “healing” at the centre are told their condition is caused by a family member, mostly women, who bewitched them. The relative, becoming a suspect, is forcefully brought to the centre to confess, and participate in ritual, including violent physical abuse.

Those who insist on their innocence are beaten until they confess, and the suspects are accused, being forced into confessing are chained to trees, tortured and made to shave their hair – supposedly to achieve the required result through correctional “therapy”.

In reality the healing centre has only caused physical and emotional pain and suffering to so many women and families, according to the executive director of the Sanneh Institute and a native of Widana, Professor John Azumah.

Accroding to Ghana media, late Dentah was one of 18 women who were identified by self-proclaimed “witch hunter,” Hajia Filipina who had been brought in by some of the villagers to discover who was responsible for the lack of rainfall, which they believed was being caused by evil “witches.” All of the suspected women “confessed” to being “witches” after being tortured in hopes of surviving the abuse, but Dentah, who was the only one in the group who refused to admit she was “witch,” and as therefore she was beaten to death in an attempt to force her to confess.

However, in spite of the shock and international outrage, there are Ghanaians who defend the barbaric tradition.

We have a very wrong perception about the witches’ camp. When I did my research I realized that it is rather this camp that serves as shelter for these old women. Because in the past, killing of these old women was very prevalent in the North. When we destroy this camp we can’t help but experience more of such killings,” said Professor Kwadwo Nimfour Opoku Onyinah, the Ghanaian theologian, while being invited to FM morning show.

COVID19: Ghana eased restrictions

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted a three-week lockdown in its two main cities, where non-essential businesses reopened. Akufo-Addo said the decision was made based on improved tracing of the disease, and to “protect the economy”.

THe move to lift some coronavirus lockdown restrictions this week is aimed to test the possibility of a return to normality after weeks of shutdowns that have damaged economy, and left without source of income a considerable part of population.
Many experts raised concerns of hunger if economy standstill continues for more weeks.

One of Africa’s fastest growing economies, Ghana last month cut its 2020 GDP growth forecast from 6.8% to 1.5% due to the coronavirus pandemic, a rate that would represent its worst performance in nearly four decades.

Plot against Ghana President

Three people were arrested in Ghana, believed to have been amassing makeshift bombs, weapons and computer equipment in a plot targeting the presidency, authorities said police foiled a suspected coup. (Image: Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo).

The Information Ministry announced the men were taken into custody after 15 months of surveillance during which they tried to obtain weapons from military personnel and secure funding “for the purpose of taking over the reins of government”.

Reportedly Nigeria President Buhari reacted upon the information about the attempted coup, underlining that democracy is “only acceptable” form of  governance.

Outstanding diplomat Kofi Annan passed away

Kofi Annan passed away on August 18 at the age of 80, the UN Migration Agency confirmed. Annan, a former diplomat from Ghana, led the United Nations from 1997 to 2006.
Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006.

He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Annan’s tenure coincided with the Iraq War and the HIV/Aids pandemic.