Monday, April 27, 2015

#PODCAST>>Episode 40: EXCLUSIVE Interview with Namibian Ambassador to Ghana

Research & Co-ordination: E.K.Bensah Jr
Executive Producer: E.K.Bensah Jr
Technical  Producer: D.J. Stagger

"Dear friends,

H.E.Charles Josob
We dedicated the fortieth edition of the Africa in Focus Show to having an exclusive interview with the High Commissioner of Namibia H.E.Charles Josob, which country is celebrating 25 years of independence from South Africa. We talked about Namibia's tourism, aviation; its Pan-Africanist aspirations and relationships. It was revealed that one of the reasons for the slow-down/draw-down of Air Namibia was because of the visa regime! Ghanaians seeking to enter the southern African country had to make their way to Nigeria at extra cost before getting a visa. The Ambassador revealed it is now possible to obtain a visa right here in Accra for USD60.oo (almost GHS240).
Juana Akuamoah-Boateng, Assistant Producer

Also on the line was member of the CAADP Country Team Marjorie Abdin. In a brief interview, she gave us an insight into what had been happening around Africa's agriculture, which is also known as the Comprehensive Africa Agrifulture Development Programme(CAADP). Arguably one of the African Union's most successful programmes, few nationals know about it. The new vim injected into the CAADP Country Team's work, what with the establishment of an office, means that the team can go ahead and better-strategise their work on agriculture, and involve more stakeholders, including the media. Marjorie talked of bringing on board media houses like Radio XYZ93.1FM, through the "Africa in Focus" Show.

We took the opportunity to introduce to listeners my Assistant Producer Juana Akuamoah-Boateng, who will be helping out with aspects of the show's research production from hereon in.

Kindly find a link to download the podcast below, and enjoy "Africa in Focus" Show exclusive with the High Commissioner of Namibia to Ghana:

Just in case you missed it: "Africa in Focus Show" is the ONLY weekly magazine on Ghanaian radio explaining; unpacking; demystifying ECOWAS; AU; and South-South cooperation policies around Africa's integration. We are airborne every Tuesday from 13h00 to 15h00 GMT. All podcasts are available for download on  Follow the conversation using #AfricainFocus

Kind regards,


Monday, April 20, 2015

COMING UP!>>Ep.40: SPECIAL: Interview with Namibian High Commissioner to Ghana H.E.Charles Josob

Episode #40:
SPECIAL: Interview with High Commissioner of Namibia to Ghana H.E.Charles Josob

In this special edition of the show, we will be speaking to the High Commissioner of Namibia to Ghana on a number of issues about that beautiful country, and what possibilities exist for South-South Cooperation.

Call us on the following numbers when we open the phone lines at 14h30 GMT
+233(0)289.000.931 // +233(0)289.931.000

Join us if you can at 1pm on 21 April, 2015.

Guiding questions
     25 years of Namibia’s independence (#Namibia25)
     Namibia’s best practices on tourism
     State of play of “Air Namibia”
     Intra-African trade, and Pan-African relationships, including vision at AU Peace & Security Council (call by Namibia Ambassador to Ethiopia & Sudan Anne Mutelo calling for self-determination of Sahrawi people); Southern African version of DFID?
     Energy diplomacy, including export of power to ESKOM

Guests in the studio:
Ø  H.E. Charles Josob, High Commissioner of Namibia to Ghana ,Namibian High Commission, Accra
Ø  Juana Akuamoah-Boateng, Queens Impact Foundation/Assistant Producer, “Africa in Focus” Show

On the line
·    Abdulai Diallo, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) @13h15 to respond to XenophobicSA and Violent Extremism

·         Marjorie Abdin, CAADP Country Team member@13h35 (“Africa in the News”) to brief on agric updates

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PODCAST!>>Ep.39: Impact of Ghana's Power Crisis(1): Why Renewable Energy?

Research & Co-ordination: E.K.Bensah Jr
Executive Producer: E.K.Bensah Jr
Technical  Producer: D.J. Stagger

"Dear friends,

Kindly note due to a technical challenge, we were compelled to pre-record the show, which will be re-played on the Radio XYZ93.1 FM on 28 April, 2015 at 13h00 GMT. 

In the meantime, allow us to explain that, we used the thirty-ninth edition of the Africa in Focus Show to commence an important discussion in our "Energy Security & Renewable Energy" month on defining renewable energy and explore different aspects of the topic.

H.E.Charles Josob
We first spoke to the High Commissioner of Namibia H.E.Charles Josob, which country is celebrating 25 years of independence from South Africa, but in 2006, had the foresight to establish a Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Institute, which is located in one of the universities.
 To the extent that Namibia is even exporting power to South Africa's ESKOM (through the SADC Power Pool) suggests it is a country on the move as far as energy security is concerned. This point is buttressed by the High Commissioner's deep insights into Namibia's renewable energy technology potential, with a focus on solar energy.

Also on the line was Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Savings & Loans(GHASALC) Eunice Marfo who, in a brief interview, explained how GHASALC members had yet to consider renewables as they were fearful of the risk involved in considering it. She admitted that PPPs would be something, when fully-formulated, members may consider. Her message to the PURC was to be mindful of investors as Ghana continues to feel the impact of the power crisis.

But the main beef of the discussion was with Nana Yaa Jantuah of Public Utilities Regulatory Commission(PURC); and Lovans Owusu-Takyi and Bridget Menyeh -- both of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation.

Nana Yaa Jantuah
Lovans(L); Bridget (R)
PURC was there to offer insights into their advocacy on solar energy; and ways to finance it; while SNV spoke to us about why renewable energies are an important response to Ghana's power crisis; and why it is important to take seriously such technologies as sources of (new) employment.

Kindly find a link to download the podcast below:

Kind regards,


Monday, April 13, 2015

COMING UP!>>Ep.39: Impact of Ghana's Power Crisis(1): Why Renewable Energy?

  • Episode #39:  

Impact of Power Crisis (1): Why Renewable Energy, and Options for Financing?

That we have a power crisis in Ghana is obvious.

As to what ordinary citizens can do to find cost-effective solutions for it is less-so. It is for this reason we are dedicating the month of April to exploring the impacts of the power crisis on different sectors, healthy living, and an exploration of what solutions exist in renewable energies, such as solar energy.
According to a 2014 report by the Cape Verde-based EcowasCentre on Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency, the ECOWAS region is one of the most active for the promotion of renewable energy and energy-efficiency systems.

Apart from hydropower, the region is endowed with modern biomass; solar and wind energy. Ghana, like Nigeria, has biomass and hydropower. Conversely, Cape Verde has wind power. Ghana’s Eastern neighbor in Nigeria has the largest installed hydropower capacity (under 2000MW), while Ghana has 1,580MW in total with Akosombo; Kpong & Bui put together.

What’s clear from the ECREEE report is that, together, ECOWAS can have a more secure energy-security.  This is buttressed by the fact that, renewable energy systems are tools that can help propel economic development and create jobs. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that in May 2013, East African Community decided to set up a Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency agency based on the West African model in Cape Verde; and that the SADC as recently as November 2014 decided to setsame Institute up on ECOWAS’ model.

There is no gainsaying we need to be paying more attention to energy-security and renewable energies.

As we do, we need to also take into consideration what financing options exist for the procurement of renewables, such as solar energy? Are there any tax incentives already in place, as the PURC is calling for for SMEs? That news reports in March indicated that PURC was helping import solar panels for SMEs speaks to the acknowledgement of the impact of the power crisis on the Northern part of the country, where a number of SMEs are also populated.

If this is part of the PURC’s advocacy, will it scale it up to other regions and, most importantly, where will it get the money from to take what is arguably a decisive step on providing financing for a renewable energy source?

April is “Energy Security & Renewable Energy month” on the Africa in Focus Show, and we hope to hear from you as we have this very important discussion that will help offer some solutions to dynamising both the country and sub-region.

Call us on the following numbers when we open the phone lines at 14h30 GMT
+233(0)289.000.931 // +233(0)289.931.000

Join us if you can at 1pm on 14 April, 2015.

Guiding questions
  • What are renewable energies, and why should Ghana be interested?
  • West Africa is endowed with lots of solar energy. Why has government not been patronizing solar long before the power crisis?
  • Will the power crisis help make procurement of solar energy easier?
  • What are some of the impacts of power crisis on Ghanaians?
  • What financing options are available for Ghanaians?
  • Why does Ghana’s Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) believe SMEs need financing for solar energies?
  • In the absence of specific and targeted financing for private sector organisations like the Ghana Association of Savings & Loans Company (GHASALC), can organisations like SNV assist in the financing of renewables with public-private-partnerships?

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Lovans Owusu-Takyi, Associate Advisor, Renewable Energy, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
Ø  Bridget Menyeh, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation
Ø  Nana Yaa Jantuah, Director of External & Public Affairs, Public Utilities Regulatory Commission

On the line:
·         H.E. Charles Josob, High Commissioner of Namibia to Ghana @13h15
· Eunice Marfo, Executive Secretary, Ghana Association of Savings & Loans Company(GHASALC) @13h30

Sunday, April 12, 2015

ARTICLE: African Union is targeting Tourism with more Taxes

In the almost-one year since "Africa in Focus" Show commenced on Radio XYZ93.1FM, the programme has discussed tourism many times. That our "Afri-Tourism" post has remained in the top 5 posts for many months (with 144 views so far), speaks to how important visitors to the website view tourism as important in a conversation around Africa's development. What few people know is that tourism has been identified by the AU as an important source of indigenous revenue for the continental organisation's work. 
It is true that alongside tourism is aviation, which is replete with many taxes, but without a doubt, in tandem, taxes on these two sectors could provide very predictable ways of resourcing an-otherwise donor-dependent AU. 
The following article touches on these points, with a focus on what some East African countries think of the whole idea. Happy reading!>>
When the breaking news was shared with selected tourism and aviation stakeholders in the region that the African Union had at their last summit, in a rather clandestine manner, smuggled in extra taxes on air travel and hotel accommodation in their budget proposals, the reaction was as expected, unprintable.
Some of the less stinging comments received were reflecting a bitter mood by stakeholders in East Africa, all affected by a downturn in tourism fortunes and in some cases struggling for sheer survival: “We will fight tooth and nail to stop this. The AU is a wasteful talk shop which has produced nothing tangible for the African people and now wants to eat more of our money. If they close down tomorrow, who will even notice it?” one regular source put it, while another more level-headed individual added: “Here at the Kenya coast, it is a question of survival now. We had to fight off greedy county governments trying to extort us with charges on beds which have remained empty for a long time. Their services are questionable, and their budgets for allowances and perks swallow up most of the tax revenues. Now the African Union also wants a share from what we don’t have? Where do these technocrats think that money comes from? They earn fat salaries, big allowances, and are totally removed from the reality on the ground. Have our Kenyan diplomats accredited to the AU even told them one word how bad our situation is? Arrival downturn in January [is] nearly 50 percent in Mombasa from an already bad 2014? Let the Heads of State dare to ratify these proposals. We will de-campaign that.”
Apparently a team of so-called experts have looked for the easy way out of the budget problems the African Union has encountered, largely by countries not paying their agreed contributions. Hitting air transport, already a highly-taxed economic sector in Africa, and targeting tourists with another hotel tax, perhaps seems to have found favors with bureaucrats who are not accountable to the general public, and the AU’s Director for Economic Affairs, one Mr. Kouassi, has been singled out as a key promoter of this new tax burden, no doubt incurring the wrath of Africa’s tourism and aviation industry.
It is understood that every tourist staying in a hotel will, should the proposals be passed in the mid-year summit of the AU, cough up a US$2 tax, while air tickets sold in Africa will incur a US$10 extra tax.
These tax proposals had in the past met with sharp opposition by the African Airlines Association (AFRAA_ and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). With Africa getting a measly share of the 1.1 billion travelers who criss-crossed the globe last year - only 56 million travelers came to Africa - any increase in taxation is seen as a further deterrent to increase those numbers significantly.
The continent, West Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, have suffered huge losses because of the Ebola factor. East Africa’s tourism industry is under siege, and in particular … Kenya [is] very badly affected by their internal situation. But it is Tanzania and Uganda, too, which have suffered from those factors. If tourism would perform well, one could even understand attempts to add or increase taxes, but right now, every added dollar in taxes is another nail in the coffin of the tourism industry. As far as air tickets are concerned, the big league airlines from the Gulf can afford to absorb that, but look at African airlines. South African is struggling for financial survival, Kenya Airways is struggling for financial survival, Egypt Air has not recovered from the revolutions which swept their country - how will they be able to compete when they have to add more taxes to their tickets? They cannot absorb it; they will become less competitive even, and instead of the African Union helping to build a strong African aviation industry, they are for all purpose helping to destroy it,” added a high-ranking aviation source from Nairobi.
Others reflected on the fact that the budget sourcing by the AU should be equitable and that these proposals will inevitably hit countries which have a tourism industry as opposed to others which do not, or even prevent tourism through prohibitive visa regulations and travel restrictions imposed on visitors, which in some cases restrict them to the capital cities.
Also targeted, according to the information received from a Ugandan source close to those proceedings, was the communications sector with unspecified charges proposed, which will no doubt further infuriate the business community and turn them against the AU bureaucrazy, pun fully intended, which ought to go back to school and learn budget discipline and how to prune wasteful spending instead of burdening Africa’s already overtaxed people and business yet more. Details, that the AU faces a budget gap of some 70 percent which needs filling from foreign partners, often partners AU member states verbally rip into at every given opportunity, is perhaps the best pointer how the African Union needs to start with reform and with bringing member countries to make their contributions, lest the continental body falls into even greater irrelevance

Monday, April 6, 2015

PODCAST!>>Ep.37: East Africa Rising(2)

Research & Co-ordination: E.K.Bensah Jr
Executive Producer: E.K.Bensah Jr
Technical  Producer: D.J. Stagger

"Dear friends,

We used the thirty-seventh edition of the Africa in Focus show to reprise the very important issue of what we consider to be "rising" East Africa. We believe it to be rising a lot more than is talked about in this part of the sub-region. 

Gertrude Chelimo
Azeez Gomda
For which reason, we invited a Kenyan national -- Gertrude Chelimo, a student at Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre -- to help join the two Ghanaians in the studio (author Arnold Boateng who wrote a book about Rwanda's ICT Sector; and Public Relations Officer of Ghana Youth Integrity Initiative Azeez Gomda) to discuss the trajectory of East Africa.

Kenya has Vision 2030; Ghana has...what, exactly? The country seems to have become bereft of the Pan-African vision it was reputed to have in the days of Nkrumah. It is in this spirit we at Africa in Focus believe it is important to create synergies between 
West and East Africa, hence our #EASTAFRICARISING initiative, which we initiated back in June 2014, when we commenced the first edition of "East Africa Rising"
Arnold Boateng

We have taken a step forward with this by establishing BOTH a facebook page (, and twitter presence ( to enhance the synergy with the already-existing whatsapp group, which is populated by journalists; activists; and professionals from East Africa; Southern Africa; and West Africa.

Kindly find a link to download the podcast below:

Kind regards,


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