Monday, September 29, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 30 September, 2014: The Hotel Industry in Ghana & Africa (2); and a Chat with Miss Tourism 2013

So, World Tourism Day 2014 went by on 27 September without much fanfare in the media.

With the exception of one or two stories by some media houses, the media has generally been found wanting on reporting tourism. Add that to the fact that Africa in Focus has reported about how the African Union and the UN World Tourism Organisation signed an MoU to promote tourism as an important element in reducing poverty in Africa, and you will realize how serious we are about prosecuting this all-important agenda.

The 27 July edition of Africa in Focus, which focused on the Forestry Sector and matters arising on Eco-Tourism, kick-started the first of a series of programmes that seek to shed light on different aspects of tourism.

On 19 August, we looked at the Aviation sector as another equally-important aspect of supporting and developing the tourism sector. On 26 August, we asked important questions around the hotel industry in Ghana. Today’s edition is a follow-up of that edition.

But let us just add a little about World Tourism Day.

According to the UN, this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) draws special attention to the role of tourism in contributing to one of the building blocks of a more sustainable future for all: Community development. This focus is in line with the global transition to the Sustainable Development Goals as the guiding principle promoted by the UN from 2015 and beyond.
The UN maintains that “as a sector representing 9% of global GDP, one in 11 jobs worldwide, and a key revenue sector for developing and emerging economies, tourism is widely acknowledged for its capacity to respond to global challenges.” It continues that “the consolidation of tourism’s economic influence has built up its social responsibility and political relevance, with a growing number of countries allocating a stronger mandate to tourism in economic and development policy planning.”

Judging by the past six programmes we have focused on tourism-related issues, one could be forgiven for thinking that Ghana has yet to recognize the all-important revenue-earner tourism remains, and therefore, why regulating, and sanitizing the hotel industry is so important.

At the end of the day, when you look at the value chain of how tourism raises revenue for the State, you will realize that hotels sit firmly on that chain.

Today’s edition of AIF, our 19th edition, is a bit of a mixed bag, because even as we will be interviewing Miss Tourism 2013 to offer insights into life after her reign, we will most importantly be shedding light on the hospitality sector by asking important questions emanating from the outcome of a Forum of Ghana Hotels Association held last week in Accra. Specifically, how should hotels synergise with regulators (Fire Service; Ghana Tourism Authority; et al) as they seek to do business.

Guiding Questions to be answered:
  • Why an Association of Hotels? How long has it bene in existe nce?
  • What is the GAH’s mandate as it relates to hospitality & tourism industry?
  • What is the state of the regulatory regime with respect to the hotel industry?
  • What is the role of the EPA in regulating hotel industry?  
    Guests in the studio:
  • Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamikye Jnr , Chairman, Ghana Hotels Association--ACCRA
  • Lambert Faabeleuon, Environmental Protection Agency

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS: Deforestation, Climate Change; and Matters Arising (23 September, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

"Dear friends,

Kindly find the link to the podcast of #AfricainFocus show on Tuesday 23 September, which interrogated some important questions about climate change; deforestation; and how the media can help in demystifying these issues to draw greater attention to the fact that it remains a canker that all of us must unite to combat for the betterment of our nation; region; continent.

As usual, we have different segments, including our regular AU/ECOWAS five minute digest; and "Africa in the News".

We also had #EbolaWatch updates from Kobby Blay, our registered nurse at Korle-Bu.
We look forward to comments!

Kind regards,

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Monday, September 15, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 16 September, 2014: Deforestation, Climate Change; and Matters Arising

On 29 July, AIF commenced what would be a series of editions examining and understanding Ghana, and Africa's forestry sector.
Having established from that programme that deforestation is a major issue in understanding the sector, we want to dedicate the 18th edition of Africa in Focus from the premise that deforestation is an acknowledged challenge for the country.

As the UNECA and other international partners prepare to host the Fourth Conference on Climate Change  and Development in Africa (CCDA-IV) in Morocco in October, we want to also touch on the issue of climate change, by starting off with important questions on Ghana's state of preparedness on its commitments around climate change. Further, we look at the impact of climate change on deforestation, and interrogate whether there is any way out for Ghana?

Finally, we will look at the way forward, starting off with what the media can do better to engage all stakeholders, including the Forestry Commission and civil society, to carry the torch of climate change and anti-deforestation measures, such as REDD+, to the wider public so that every person buys into the fact that we are all important components in the developmental chain that helps address these problems.

Guiding Questions to be answered:
·        What do we need to know about deforestation, and climate change, and some of the challenges associated with it in Ghana? (OXFAM/Forestwatch)
·        Is there a continental response to combating deforestation in Africa? (Forestwatch)
·        What are some of the threats to reversing deforestation in Africa? (Forestry Commission/Forestwatch/ )
·        What are Kenya and Rwanda doing in responding to the challenges of the forestry sector?(Rwandan Development Board official)
*    How can the media help contribute to sensitising Ghanaians, Africans and forest communities on the critical role they play in demystifying deforestation and climate change?

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Naana Nkansah Agyekum, OXFAM Ghana
Ø  Samuel Mawutor, ForestWatch
Ø  Forestry Commission official

On the line
Ø  Patrick Kwizera, Tour Guide, Rwanda

Friday, September 12, 2014

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS: Afri-Tourism (9 September, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

"Dear friends,

Kindly find the link to the podcast of #AfricainFocus show on Tuesday 9 September, which interrogated some important questions about what Africa in Focus calls "Afri-Tourism".

As usual, we have different segments, including our regular AU/ECOWAS five minute digest; "Africa in History"; "Africa in the News".

We also have #EbolaWatch updates from Kobby Blay, our registered nurse at Korle-Bu.
We look forward to comments!

Kind regards,

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Thursday, September 11, 2014

At Africa in Focus' First-ever Public Forum, Former ECOWAS Official Frank Ofei Speaks about Ecowas Common Currency

At Africa in Focus' First-ever Public Forum, Former ECOWAS Official Frank Ofei Speaks about ECOWAS Common Currency

Published on Thursday, 11 September 2014 06:10

By Isaac AIDOO

The effort to reach a common currency for West African states will remain elusive if governments continue to bask in fiscal indiscipline and fail to adhere to the dictates of any roadmap agreed upon.

With the structural weakening of the European monetary union at the root of Europe’s economic depression, the viability or otherwise of a single monetary union in West Africa has returned to the front burner.

Experts on monetary integration say the achievement of the eco can only be feasible if member countries are disciplined enough to pursue measures that fall in tandem with the region’s criteria for convergence.

Mr Frank Ofei,  a former  ECOWAS official who was instrumental in the revision of the ECOWAS Treaty in 1975 stresses on fiscal and monetary discipline by leaders of the member states if monetary union is to see the light of day.

At a two-day public forum on Regional Development in West Africa organised in Accra last week, Mr Ofei told participants that leaders of ECOWAS were failing to see and exploit the numerous opportunities in the West African market.

According to Mr Ofei, “achieving a single currency is feasible if we have the discipline but we don’t have the discipline. With the slippages we are experiencing in Ghana , we need to be asking ourselves what is happening to us and how do we surmount the challenges ; It’s not just a matter of bemoaning the fact that inflation is rising; we should ask ourselves what causes the inflation; what can we do about productivity to stem the rising inflation.”

On the score of the member countries inability to meet all the convergence criteria, Heads of States of West Africa Monetary Zone have recently set 2020 as the new deadline to attain one currency.

Mr Ofei pointed out that “it is not just about going to take a decision that we are setting 2020 as a new target  when you get back you don’t take the necessary steps to achieve that. If there is a roadmap that has come along with it, you must stick to it and make sure your policies are in line with that.”

He wonders whether there will ever be a time that governments will formulate policies that have a bearing on some of the commitments made at the ECOWAS forum.

“Every country is supposed to have a multi- year convergence programme so when the shift in deadline was made to from 2005 to 2009 each of the WAMZ countries was supposed to have drawn up a convergence programme covering that period to achieve the set target,” he submits.

Mr  Ofei  adds “You take where you are, where you are supposed to be, plot your path and policies that go with it to achieve that but none of the members has done that  so if you haven’t done it let alone implement it then the deadline will keep shifting.”

Since 2000, six ECOWAS nations have been planning to introduce a common currency, known as the eco, in a new monetary union, the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ). The long-term strategy is for the CFA to eventually merge with the eco and transform into the region’s only currency.

The body set up to make the technical preparations for the transition, known as the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), has postponed this implementation several times.

WAMI has been unable to carry out because most WAMZ members have failed to achieve the prescribed economic indicators needed for the smooth take-off of the common currency: single-digit inflation, central bank financing of government deficit of less than 10% of the previous year’s revenue, a government budget deficit of no more than 4% of GDP, and enough foreign exchange reserves to cover three months of imports.

As of June last year, only Nigeria was close to reaching the required goals. Ghana is doing particularly badly: battling a double digit fiscal deficit, double-digit inflation as well as other domestic and external headwinds.

Other WAMZ members have had similarly inconsistent records.

Experts are of the view that the  European crisis holds lessons for Africa. Although the EU is an imperfect political union and has a monetary union coordinated by the European Central Bank, it does not have fiscal union.

European countries still control their budgets and spending. Without this fiscal alliance, the EU was unable to overcome “asymmetric shocks”, where some unproductive countries, such as Greece, suffered downturns and needed fiscal help while others did not. It was difficult to discipline members who breached the pact.
“We are really learning from the euro crisis,” said John H. Tei Kitcher, WAMI’s acting director-general.

“One lesson that stands tall is the need for individual countries aspiring to join monetary unions to be fiscally disciplined, transparent with their economic data with their peers and committed to converging to the agreed criteria,” he noted.

Fiscal discipline will help member countries to meet the convergence criteria and buffer them against potential shocks that could result from belonging to a monetary union. Such discipline requires a strong political commitment from member countries.

ECOWAS’s seven former French colonies use the CFA (for Communauté FinancièreAfricaine) franc as their common currency. These French-speaking nations—Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo—together form the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

On the other hand, the five English-speaking countries—Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone—each use their own legal tender however.

Members of UEMOA and the CFA countries are also not meeting their targets but they still run a single currency.

An  expert on monetary union finds it interesting that CFA countries despite their inability to meet their targets have been able to achieve monetary union.

 “Even though they are not meeting their targets their deviation from those targets aren’t as wide as what we have in English speaking West Africa,” he stated. More importantly though they are able to get away with it because the CFA franc is effectively underwritten by France, which is why its value is tied to the Euro, the currency zone to which France belongs.

 “The challenge is whether we can individually as countries move towards a stable enough level of macro-economic performance in terms of monitoring of fiscal policies

The currency divide has long been one of ECOWAS’s major stumbling blocks.

Civil society groups, apparently distraught with the shifting of goal posts have challenged ECOWAS leaders to match their words with actions and ensure the implementation to the letter of Protocols signed to promote integration in the sub region.

Convener of a recent summit organised by EcoAxis Integration West African Limited, Shola Oshunkeye, maintains that the protocols on movement of persons, goods and the right to residency have been partially observed but largely exist only on paper.

 “If we want to achieve the kind of integration that member states of the European Union gleefully talk about today, the protocols will have to be revisited and the leaders of ECOWAS countries in the sub-region must walk the talk,” he said in an interview.

In spite of ratifying the protocol which ushered in the free movement of persons in the sub-region impeded by the colonial powers, several border checks continue to exist, some of them unauthorised.

This has resulted in severe harassment and extortion of money from travellers by security personnel at the numerous checkpoints.

 Free movement is also hampered by different official languages at border posts coupled with reports of torture and killings by security personnel in countries like Senegal and Gambia.


Monday, September 8, 2014

AFRICA IN FOCUS >> Coming up on 9 September, 2014: Afri-Tourism!

Since 29 July, AIF has navigated the waters of a topic that merits more discussion on the Ghanaian media landscape – that of Tourism. We wittingly coined a term called “Afri-Tourism”, which we define as “the witting attempt by Africans to purchase African products while visiting African countries.” So far, we have dedicated no less than four shows to tourism-related issues. These include the aviation sector on 19 August; the Hotel industry in Ghana on 26 August; and Afri-tourism on 9 September. Truth be told, we introduced the concept at the first-ever High-Level Public Forum on Regional Development in West Africa, which was organized by the Research & Communications Unit of AIF on 4-5 September. Our rapporteurs are working hard to produce a report, which we will make available as soon as we can.

We had renowned tourism expert, and author, Kofi Akpabli make a presentation on “Towards Afri-Tourism: Making Ghana a viable tourist destination”. And what a presentation it was! He spoke to the issue of sub-regional tourism, which is something East Africa does so well, and West Africa can do better. For example, he wondered, given the number of newly-wed Nigerian couples that come to Ghana, can this country possibly be considered a honey-moon destination in West Africa? And what about Lome and its beaches? Or Cote d’Ivoire and its wildlife?

Akpabli spoke of regional tourism blocs, and wondered whether in West Africa, we are competing or complementing each country’s efforts for tourism? If the Caribbean and East Africa can do it so well, why can’t we? Senegal, we learn, has targeted the African-American diaspora to such an extent that some of them come to West Africa not even knowing of Ghana’s rich cultural heritage? We should begin to ask questions about African countries and their Unique Selling Propositions (USPs).

To this end, we want to use the 17th edition of the show to speak to experts in the field who have more than a fair idea of what it means to facilitate Afri-Tourism. We want to end the show with a way forward, which includes a greater awareness by the listening public and beyond that Afri-Tourism doesn’t start tomorrow; it starts almost yesterday, so let’s get Afri-touring!

Guiding Questions to be answered:
·        What do we need to know about the Tourism sector, and some of the challenges associated with it in Ghana & Africa? ()
·        Is Ghana ready for Afri-tourism at the scale of other African countries? (CityEscape Hotel/Kenyan Forestry Service)
·        Can the subregional response to the tourism sector translate to a continental one? (Kwizera/Kenyan Forestry Service)
·        What are some of the threats to any development of an Afri-tourism perspective? (Kenyan Forestry Service)
·        Does Ghana have a sufficiently-sustainable environmental sector that will stimulate Afri-tourism? (CityEscape Hotel)
·        What are Kenya and Rwanda doing in responding to the challenges of the tourism sector?(Kwizera; Kenyan Forestry Service)

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Ebo Aidoo-Annan Jr, CityEscape Hotel
Ø  Ignatius Ahimbisibwe, RwandAir

On the line
Ø  Patrick Kwizera, Tour Guide, Rwanda
Ø  Charity Muthonin, Kenya Forestry Service  @ 14h10

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

PODCAST>> "AFRICA IN FOCUS:E-commerce in Ghana & Africa (2 September, 2014)

From Emmanuel K:

"Dear friends,

Kindly find the link to the podcast of #AfricainFocus show on Tuesday 2 September, which interrogated some important questions about E-commerce in Ghana.

We leave the show getting a sense of how three Ghanaian organisations in;; and Rancard Solutions are all doing the very level best to ensure that Ghanaians get the opportunity to benefit from safe and secure online transactions.

We spoke to ECOWAS' Stella Attakpah who offered a regional perspective on e-commerce, and gave an insight into how the Dakar-based Intergovernmental Action Group against Money-Laundering (GIABA) continues to offer Member States technical assistance and how governments must put structures in place to protect the buyers and sellers.

As usual, we have different segments, including our regular AU/ECOWAS five minute digest; "Africa in History"; "Africa in the News".

We also have #EbolaWatch updates from Kobby Blay, our registered nurse at Korle-Bu.

We look forward to comments!
Kind regards,

Click here to view

(Emmanuel K shared these files using Dropbox. Enjoy!)
© 2014 Dropbox

Monday, September 1, 2014

First-ever High-Level Public Forum on Regional Development in West Africa -- 4-5 September, EASTGATE HOTEL, Accra

High-Level Public Forum on Regional Development in West Africa

Introduction and Objectives
The Research & Communications Unit of “Africa in Focus” (Radio XYZ) plans to host a two-day high-level public forum on “ECOWAS integration; regional security; and the role of Rwanda in promotion of intra-African tourism” in Accra, on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 September, 2014 at Eastgate Hotel.

The forum will bring together a group of around ten that include senior policy officials, civil society leaders, researchers and community leaders to discuss ongoing debates around ECOWAS integration; regional peace and security; the informal economy; and efforts to promote intra-African trade with the view of providing the necessary public support to these initiatives. The involvement of these stakeholders in the advocacy efforts around ECOWAS and African integration efforts is not only important but very urgent. The theme of the forum is “enhancing public knowledge and engagement on regional development in West Africa”.

The forum has the following specific objectives:
1.      Increase participants’ and public knowledge and engagement on ongoing ECOWAS integration efforts on energy security in the region and across the continent; and their implications for Ghana;
2.     Discuss recent initiatives by ECOWAS and its stakeholders on West African integration efforts; regional peace and security; and East Africa on facilitating tourism in Africa 

"Africa in Focus" (AIF) is a brand-new two-hour discussion show that has been live-on-air every Tuesday since May 2014 on award-winning Radio XYZ93.1FM. Aired from 13h10 to 15h00 GMT, it is dedicated to telling Africa's story by educating and informing listeners on developments around manifold sectors in ECOWAS member states; the African Union and its institutions; and the AU's relationship with the Global South, including the BRIC countries.

It remains the only show on Ghanaian radio that seeks to shed light on untold stories of the manifold personalities; and institutions populating the African continent, as well as what the African private sector is doing to contribute to Africa's equitable growth. 

It is hosted by Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr, who also heads the Research & Communications Unit. It has been meeting every week at Eastgate Hotel with the Business Desk to monitor and evaluate previous editions of AIF show; explore progress on the direction of the research component of the "Africa in Focus" show; the state of communication instruments (facebook; twitter; google plus community); how far weekly activities are contributing to enriching the Unit's monitoring of African integration dynamics of ECOWAS; the AU; and Africa's engagement with members of the Global South.

Finally, the meetings have sought to undertake innovative strategies to further-educate the public on Africa's development.
 The High-Level Forum is one of the Unit’s innovative strategies on educating about Africa.

The first edition of the "Africa in Focus" show was on Tuesday 6 May at 14h00. Entitled "EPAs and Matters Arising", it featured three(3) guests at the studio –Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah of the Economic Justice Network, and General Agricultural Worker's Union; Franklin Cudjoe of think-tank IMANI, who is an ardent advocate of Ghana signing the EPAs; and Frank Ofei -- a former ECOWAS official during 1980s and 1990s, with experience on the revision of the 1975 ECOWAS Treaty, establishment of the ECOWAS single currency, coordination of implementation of NEPAD in West Africa, private sector participation in the West African integration process, ECOWAS relations with the African Union particularly concerning the implementation of the African Economic Community (AEC) treaty, and ECOWAS negotiation of economic arrangements with other third parties (the European Union, World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank.
Other editions of the show have focused on:
·     Peace & Security in West Africa
·        Africa’s integration
·        The state of Civil Society in West Africa
·        East Africa versus West Africa
·        The informal economy in Africa
·        African solutions to African problems
·        Energy Security in West Africa

Participants at the first-ever forum will be drawn from the private sector; policy think tanks; and civil society organisations. The types of actors to be drawn into this forum will enable the Research & Communications Unit to strengthen relations with current stakeholders and establish new relations with relevant stakeholders in support of many of the development-related issues tackled on the weekly “Africa in Focus” show.

Moderated by host of, and Head of Research & Communications of AIF, it is an opportunity to revisit and amplify some of the major topics covered over the past three months of the show. The idea is to encourage greater public engagement of the issues. The Forum is expected to start at 10:00am and end at 3:00pm with lunch for invited guests. There will be one coffee/tea break, separating the two segments. Below is the agenda.

Day ONE – 4 September, 2014; Venue: Eastgate Hotel, East Legon

Introduction & rationale of the Forum & moderation
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr
What is ECOWAS, and where should it be by 2015?
Mr. Frank Ofei – CONFIRMED

Towards a more equitable ECOWAS integration
 Kingsley Ofei-Nkansah, GAWU -- CONFIRMED
10:35:00 AM


Facilitating free movement in ECOWAS with private sector
Promoting intra-African trade with agriculture
Edison Ade Gbenga, AgriPro Consulting – CONFIRMED

Comments, Questions and Answers


KEY NOTE presentation: Understanding the role of Civil society organization engagement in ECOWAS
Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, Executive Director, WACSI – CONFIRMED
The role of the Youth in ECOWAS member States
Rauf Kadri, Programmes Manager, Ghana Integrity Youth Campaign– CONFIRMED
Snacks & Drink

International Best Practices in the Informal Sector: Towards Regulation in Ghana
Executive Secretary of GHASALC Eunice Marfo – CONFIRMED
International Best Practices in the Informal Sector: Towards an Ethical Code of Conduct
Edmund Benjamin-Addy, GHASCA representative – CONFIRMED
Comments, Questions and Answers

Lunch for invited guests & End of Day One

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