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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

In Kenya, When You are Poor - You Die Alone

By F. Itam

Today I found out JG, someone I knew died. Personable and intellectual in his way, JG always struck me as someone that was curious about the world. JG had an opinion on everything, be it politics, the economy or even the winner of the 2010 World Cup, sadly which he will not see.

Though the father of three sons (whom he was immensely proud of) had his personal demons - JG was always there to lend a hand. With the practical knowledge he had acquired in his 36 years of life, JG always had a solution. And there was nothing that was impossible to him  - until he tried it.

JG went missing on Monday evening. On Tuesday his family and colleagues assumed he would show up. It was not the first time JG who enjoyed his tipple had gone missing in "action". But he always showed up - cowed by the anger and worry he had brought on. However, within a few days, JG would be back to his form - giving advice on the life situations we found ourselves in.

But this Tuesday and today - JG did not show. After visiting hospitals and police stations, JG was found at the mortuary. It turns out that he died on Monday night under circumstances we shall never truly know. But like the others who die in poverty, it took searching  throughout Nairobi for him to sadly surmise what befell him. You see in a country with high mobile phone usage rates, unfortunately even the police are unable to inform the next of kin when they come upon a body.

I once asked JG how come he knew so much and he told me that during the Kenyatta and Moi regime's his father had been a senior civil servant. This meant that he had the opportunity to attend a good school in Nairobi. Unfortunately, JG's father was part of Daniel Moi's purge on all that was above mediocre and his father was detained for years. Such punishment was not only meted out on JG's father but ultimately his younger dependent children of which JG was one. Thus JG was pulled out of the Nairobi school and wound up in a rural one. The frustration of his unquenched curiousity for knowledge not being met and adaptation to rural life meant that JG's education henceforth was erratic. Later on he had to make do with the university of life, taking on any job there was.

It is ironic that the ICC have today granted the Louis Moreno Ocampo’s request to launch an investigation on crimes against humanity in Kenya covering the period between 1st June 2005 and 26th November 2009. This is because people like JG are not alone in having had to suffer the death of their aspirations long before the expiration of their mortal bodies. However, the people that were behind the regime that ensured that JG would never go far in life remain un-prosecuted.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

Kiplagat Owes it to Kenyans to Resign

By Cyprian Nyamwamu And Ndung'u Wainaina 

Is it that Kenyans cannot see the dangerous game being played against them by very crafty politicians and state machinery?

The debate on the appointment of TJRC chairman Bethwel Kiplagat is not about personalities. It is about a new Kenya under new: value system, public ethics, political culture and accountability in management of public affairs by public office holders. TJRC is about confronting the past socio-political and moral bankruptcy of the society in order to break away from that past. We cannot do it under pretence or convenience.

This is about taking head on the systemic crisis of impunity that have and continue destroying Kenya. The selection panel and MPs failed to listen to Kenyans' demand to subject TJRC commissioners selection process to public scrutiny. The reports that adversely mention Kiplagat have been public information. These reports were produced by government, commissions and task forces funded through taxpayers' money. How could it have been possible that both selection panel and Parliament overlooked these reports despite requirement of the TJR Act?

The TJR Act 2008 section 10(6) (a) (b) and(c) are very clear on who can work in the TJRC not just as the chairman but in any capacity. Kiplagat is not being accused of having served in Kanu regime. Nothing can be far from the truth. He is specifically adversely mentioned in several public funded and officially sanctioned reports. His appointment therefore contravenes the sections of the TJR Act.

Kiplagat is a public officer by virtue of his appointment. He is therefore not a private citizen. Once you hold public office, you must be open to public scrutiny and accountability. How can Kiplagat sign off a TJRC final report of which he is a subject matter?

Kiplagat is a duty bearer while Kenyans are rights and responsibilities holders. Moreover he is heading the "mother of all commissions", the TJRC. The reports of the 38 former commissions of inquiry and task forces of the past shall form the core resource materials and subject of this big commission. It is not an ordinary commission.

His office as chairman is a more demanding office than that of judge of the high court and even the Chief Justice. Why? Judges rely on legal authority of their bench to issue rulings of cases taken before them. The TJRC chair and commissioners rely on integrity, moral authority and public trust to have victims go before them and for them to use the information and material given to them, to write their report and make recommendations. 

A court of law can say that this judge is competent to preside over a matter even when one demands that a judge steps aside; but a court of law cannot rule that Kenyans should trust Kiplagat and further order that victims should appear before the Kiplagat-led TJRC! This is not a judicial process. This is not a legal process per se but a crucial moral and social reconstruction process of a society.

Already victims are in court saying Kiplagat cannot secure their truth; he will not unearth the truth; and he cannot bring down if necessary his former employers and grandmasters; and people who gave him houses and land like Moi and others. These victims are the ones we should be listening to. Kiplagat should resign. And he shall resign.

If the citizens who are his employers see that Kiplagat shall use his office to serve the powerful who seem to have put him in the seat and not the many who suffered the violations, how can this employee refuse to resign arguing that his rights he being violated? Which rights have been violated? He wants a fair trial and hearing. Who has denied him fair trial? Let him seek all trials he can get. But fortunately' this is victims and Kenyans' TJRC, not his.

When people conveniently ask why we have not named other people who perpetrated violations, we wonder why it is not clear to such people that we shall be forwarding these claims to the TJRC. Right now what we need is a competent and credible TJRC. We do not have one. There are credible assertions of Kiplagat having done things that shall be the subject of the TJRC. SO he can only be a witness of TJRC not a commissioner, let alone being the chairman.

Then there is an argument that even President Kibaki was part of the Moi tyranny. But then Kibaki is not a TJRC commissioner or chair. Kibaki will have to appear before the TJRC to tell us all Kenyans a lot about what he knows about the murder of JM, Ouko, Nyayo torture chambers, Wagalla Massacre and many other serious violations.

Those giving flimsy argument in support of Kiplagat cannot even be said to be in bed with a strange bedfellow. It is a surrender of principle. The principle of democratic and credible processes of seeking the truth and justice. This country is suffering from a crisis of impunity and we should avoid convenient arguments that may embolden impunity.

Nyamwamu heads the National Convention Executive Council while Wainaina is the executive director of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict.

Friday, 5 March 2010


There is too much poverty in the country: in the cities and in the countryside, two-thirds of Ghanaians live on two dollars a day. That is very bad indeed for a country that has exported gold, diamond, timber and cocoa for decades.

There is too much corruption in the country: in both major political parties NDC and NPP; and in the police and immigration service; at Tema and Takoradi harbours and Kotoka Airport, and at CEPS; importers,exporters and travellers are suffering. In the universities, polytechnics, nursing and teachers’ training colleges sex is traded for grades and money is exchanged for admission. Many female students are victims.

The illiteracy level in the country is very high: Close to 30% of the adult population cannot read and write. Unemployment is very high too. Unofficially it hovers between 25 and 50%. Many of the youth have no jobs and have resorted to activities such as armed robbery, prostitution, hawking and other social vices. Graduates from our universities are without jobs either and many are doing their best to live in poverty.

In many homes basic facilities such as water and toilet are absent. Many people in our cities and towns are without quality and quantity of water. In some communities, residents have to live without water supply for weeks if not months.

In most of our rural areas people live in mud houses, roofed with raffia leaves. They are without electricity, water and social security. In the cities people have no mortgage; they face high renting and utility bills with poor services. Power cuts is everywhere in the country, yet every month the minister of energy receives millions of cedis for not providing the people with the energy thy need.

Farmers have no access to tractors and fertilisers and have to plant using cutlasses and hoes during the planting and harvesting seasons. Even when tractors are imported for them to use the corrupt politicians always hijack them. The farmers have no access to irrigation facilities and if nature fails to provide them with water then they are doomed.

Poverty is driving more and more children into the streets of Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Ho, Tema and many others. Children serving as head potters are visible everywhere in the country. They are selling ice water, coconut, plantain chips and other hawking activities. They are sacrificing their education to find food for themselves. Majority of these kids have no place to call home. They sleep in the street and wherever they can. Some of them were born in the street, have been raised by the street, taught by the street, protected by the street but many of them have been subjected to abuse by the very society that has the responsibility to protect them. The MPs, the president, the vice president and their ministers drive by: some of them even stop to buy the stuff these children are selling without asking question why these children who are supposed to be in school and be trained as future leaders are on the street selling.

There is entropy of infrastructure decay in the country: break down of the rail sector, energy shortages, poor roads, poor and inadequate housing, inadequate water and sanitation delivery systems. There are no proper waste management systems. The traffic jams and pollution in Accra, Kumasi and elsewhere are unbearable.

There is food shortage everywhere and prices are beyond the reach of ordinary Ghanaians as a result malnutrition is increasingly affecting most of the children especially in the rural areas.

Most hospitals are without essential medicines and medical staff is in short supply in most health institutions. Patients sleeping on the floor of hospitals due to inadequate beds are a common feature in our hospitals. The minister of health says there is no money for medicines but every month taxes are paid to his government and we cannot tell where the money goes.

We have been told that Tema Harbour is being raped by men working with the president. Those at the helm of affairs are doing their best to loot as much as they can for themselves leaving Ghanaians to suffer. A case in point is the corruption allegations levelled at members of both the NDC and NPP.

Ghana has not modernized at all. 53 years after independence we still carry things on our head; wash our clothes with our hands and our women still carry babies on their back. They are all signs of where we are as a nation. Quality of life is very low. Life expectancy is just 57. Young men and women are dying from diseases that ought not to kill them. Poverty and the heat from the sun have turned beautiful young ladies into old one. There is walling and gnashing of teeth in every home. Out of sight out of mind a woman has to poison herself and her five children a sign of poverty, desperation, frustration that the NDC and NPP have helped institutionalised in the country. “It has now emerged that Georgina Pipson, the 31-year-old mother suspected of killing her five children at Gomoa Nyanyano near Kasoa in the Central Region, poisoned them with parazone, a powerful, corrosive detergent.
The Children are Kwaku Osae Asante 11, Nana Yaw Asante 9, Angel Akua Asante 6, Kofi Asante 4 and Esi Asante 1.” Source:, Tuesday, 05 Jan 2010.

Nothing is manufactured in the country not even bicycles let alone tractors, cars, computers, mobile phones, dish washers and heavy equipments that help nations to develop. We are a nation that depends on what others in Europe, North America, Japan, Korea, and Chinahave used and thrown away. Our economy is littered with used computers, used pants, and used cars things that most Ghanaians cannot do without because of poverty. In all this we have had presidents and their ministers who were paid huge salaries and bonuses to help develop the nation but only ended up impoverishing the people.

NDC and NPP have been promising to build castles in Ghana, yet people are living in mud houses. We cannot even device plans to help our farmers to increase food production. We have not recognised that the cutlasses and hoes they have been using since the time of slavery and colonialism cannot help us to move forward as a nation.

Water pollution and poor sanitation is everywhere in our cities. The people of Teshie and Nungua are using the sea and the coast as places of convenience because they have no access to toilets. In Accra the Korle Lagoon and the Odaw River have been polluted so much so that there are no living organisms in them. The stench in our cities is awful. Illegal dumping of waste is everywhere. Apart from being eyesores these dumps have also become breeding grounds for flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, rats and mice; and cause odour problems, water pollution from runoff, and air pollution from burning.

In many of the country, for example; Sewerage is almost non-existent, with only a portion of Accra, Tema, Kumasi and few regional capitals enjoying piped sewerage services. There is no centralized wastewater treatment system in most of the cities and households and commercial premises generally have no onsite flush latrines. Within Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tema and most of the cities and towns the absence of waste infrastructures has led to a situation where solid waste sometimes remain uncollected for weeks, and is unhygienically burnt and disposed; indiscriminate dumping of waste is creating health problems.

There are few cities and towns with reliable piped water supply. Many residence of Accra do not have access to frequent supply of good drinking water and many households have to resort to extreme measures to be able to cope. In short, the infrastructures to deliver water to the people are either not existing or their capacities are too small to support the growing demand. The water situation in the rural areas is even worse. In the three northern regions people have to walk several miles in order to get water. As a result, people are not able to live healthy lives due to poor water quality and dwindling accessibility.

Rawlings and his P(NDC) spent 19 years joking with Ghanaians and the problems facing them. For better part of his 19 year reign Rawlings busied himself with celebration of June 4th and 31st December anniversaries than the welfare of Ghanaians. There is nothing remarkable in the country that can be associated with his 19 year reign. The SSS now (SHS) that he brought to Ghana has been a failure. Students still do not have access to textbooks close to two decades after it was introduced. Kuffour and his NPP also spent 8 years talking more and doing little.

The NDC and the NPP are toying with Ghana's secondary school system: 3 years for NDC, 4 years for NPP meanwhile they are busy sending their children to be educated abroad leaving Ghanaians to suffer from their selfish and ill thought-out policies. Nkrumah built universities and the current NDC and NPP leadership enjoyed it for free. During their time it was one student to a room, free breakfast, lunch and supper. But go to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana and Cape Coast University and see the condition of our students. Four students are packed in a room meant for a student and that is when a student is even lucky to have his/her name short listed by the authorities. Students in these institutions are studying without electricity and other academic facilities that produce high quality of graduates. As for the University of Development Studies the little I say about it the better. The neglect ofGhana’s tertiary institutions is illustrated in a news report by Ghanaian Times headlined: “Water Shortage: Experts Coming from S. Africa" which reported that:

"Experts from Ballest-Nedam, the Dutch company that installed the control panel at the intake pump station of the Weija Headworks are expected in Ghana on Thursday morning from South Africa to help repair the machine. This follows the inability of local experts to get the damaged electronic equipment fixed for the pump to function again”, Source: Ghanaian Times, 09-Feb-2010.

Another news item reads: "Straight-talking Charles Kofi Wayo has poured scorn on engineers working at the gutted Tema Oil Refinery, asking if they qualify to even be called engineers when they cannot manufacture common bolts and have to wait for three months for foreign expertise to fix the minutest of problems. "If you have engineers there why is it that one small bolt you have to wait for a white man two, three months. You can’t even make your own bolts…You can’t even tool anything down there, even gasket - common gasket when it blows, you shut down the RFCC and stuff like that so where are the engineers? Where are the engineers? Source:, Thursday, 21 January 2010.

The simple truth is that our students are not able to invent neither do our experts able to repair even broken machines. We cannot blame our universities for failing to produce high quality graduates and experts because they have mounting resource problems. The Universities lack well trained lecturers. They lack modern facilities such as state of the art libraries, laboratory simulation facilities, studios, computers, projectors, internet facilities, constant energy supply and books. They lack them because the NPP and NDC governments have failed to invest and build the infrastructures needed to deliver 21st century education. As a result we have to import the equipments and books from countries that have done their home work well and have invested heavily in education notably in science and technology.

Ghana has been a leading gold exporter for decades and we have been selling gold at the international gold market for decades yet ordinary Ghanaians do not know where the proceeds go. Ghanaians cannot even buy products made from gold. No one in Ghana except the corrupt NDC and their equally corrupt NPP rivals who know where the proceeds go. Now they are happy that we have discovered oil and are seriously strategising to steal so Ghanaians will continue to live in poverty again. Ghana is a leading cocoa exporter but where does the money go? Rawlings couldn't give a straight answer when he was asked. Kuffour couldn’t give a straight answer either. Are we able to even buy chocolate for our children in a country which is the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa? We continue to receive grants from rich countries in the global north but the politicians and their business friends are not allowing it to have impact in the country.

Hundreds of loan agreements have been signed and billions of dollars have been received by our governments (Rawlings and Kuffour and now Mills) and we are paying heavy interest fees for it yet Ghanaians cannot trace where the money has gone, how it was spent or the projects it has been used to complete. We only hear of the loan agreements and the interests we are paying but not the money.

For the past 28 years Ghana has been governed by two main parties: the ruling National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party but it is no point arguing that both parties have been the cause of Ghana’s economic demise. For decades they have toyed with Ghana’s economy, its infrastructure needs: energy, roads, rail lines, education, telecommunication and health.

Frustration, hopelessness and desperation can be found in the face of many Ghanaians. Since Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 Ghanaians have been without a true leader. A leader who will provide jobs for the youth; a leader who will provide infrastructure for the economic take off, a leader who will transform Ghana's railway sector into viable transportation industry; a leader who is a problem solver and not just arm-chair president.

Come 2012 NDC and NPP politicians aided by some corrupt media practitioners will come with the same pack of lies, deceits, pledges and promises and with smooth words: vote for us and we will do this and that but once they get to parliament they cannot even put a bill together to solve some of the problems. Once they become ministers they cannot even formulate policies let alone implement one. Ghanais poor today because of NPP and NDC who have no idea how to turn the huge natural resources into goods that will benefit Ghanaians. For 28 years both parties have mismanaged Ghana.

Ghanaians are suffering not because we are poor in terms of natural resources. We are poor because those entrusted with the management of the nation have sought create wealth to benefit themselves at the expense of the poor majority who live in 18th century conditions. We are poor because we have of bad political leaders who are interested in getting power without using the power to help develop the nation for all to benefit. Those entrusted with the management of the nation are simply visionless. They love to drive in convoy at the expense of the nation yet have no idea how to help Ghana become a food sufficient nation. 53 years after independence we still import rice from China and India and there is no sign that the importation will stop soon.

It is so sad that the leaders who came after Nkrumah have done very little to add to the foundation he laid. I don't know what would have happened to Ghana had Nkrumah not built Akosombo dam. I don't what would have happened to Ghana had Nkrumah not built Tema city and the harbour with all the infrastructures and industries such as VALCO. Nkrumah spent 9 years from 1957 to 1966 doing all these landmark projects, Rawlings and his PNDC spent 19 years selling what Nkrumah built and where did the money go? The Asia Tigers (Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore) took the same 20 years wasted by Rawlings to turn their countries around. Ghanaians would have been better off than they are now if the PNDC/NDC leadership had used the 19 years judiciously.

Rawlings and his P(NDC) couldn't even maintain the things Nkrumah developed let alone adding some to it. Rawlings and his bootlickers had to allow them to decay because they did not have any idea how important those things were to the economy of our country. Kuffour spent 8 years selling Ghana Telecom and he cannot tell us what he used the money for. He thought Mo Ibrahim would give him 5 million dollar reward for managing Ghana to benefit himself and his circle of friends but Mo Ibrahim was smart.

If Nkrumah had been alive he would have turned the oil find into jobs for Ghanaians to enjoy; he would have used it to build houses for the poor in the country; he would have constructed another Akosombo dam to solve the energy crisis facing the nation; he would have developed and modernise the railway sector to ease the congestion facing our cities.

Can Mills save Ghana? Well his style of governance shows that unemployment and many of the woes he came to meet will worsen. He has not shown any clear policy direction as what he wants to do or achieve for Ghana. He would be best remembered for his penchant for silence and dithering when major issues need to be addressed. Can President Mills emulate the extraordinary leadership of Nkrumah and save Ghana from its current economic quandary? I doubt it. President Mills has been in power for over a now year and has not found his feet yet, though his ministers are enjoying tax payers' money, driving Land Cruisers while fishermen have no premix fuel. His government is so pathetic that it has become a laughing stock in the country and even within the NDC. Has Mills been able to practice what he preached during the elections?

Will NPP's Alan Kyeremanteng and Akuffo Addo save Ghana? I don't think so because they are part of the same wagon that has not delivered to Ghanaians. No wonder both of them think the only way they can serve Ghana is to be president and have been quarrelling since the NPP primaries.

NPP and NDC share one common characteristic: both parties rely on lies, deceits, bribery, and corruption to win votes while doing nothing to improve the social and economic situation in the country. That is why for the 28 years that both parties have governed Ghana standard of living continue to fall and every statistics either official or non-official is in the negative. Both parties like to share the nation’s resources among themselves and their peers forgetting the ordinary Ghanaian who stood in the sun to elect them. Rawlings and Kuffour and their NDC and NPP could not use proceeds from gold, timber, bauxite, diamond and cocoa to develop the nation and there is no doubt that both parties have contributed immensely to impoverishing the people with their short sighted, ill conceived and vote buying economic policies. If Ghana is going to be a nation for all her people then there is the need for a leadership that will aggressively implement policies and programmes that will transform the nation from its current economic predicament; a leadership that will mobilize all the resources in the country to develop Ghana for all its citizens to benefit.

Such leadership cannot be found in the NDC and NPP and that is why it is important for Ghanaians to consider voting for independent candidates or parties that have the track record of laying the foundation for Ghana. Ghanaians must sit up and must be cautious of the people they vote for in 2012 otherwise they risk living in poverty for another four years.

By Lord Aikins Adusei


Ghana:Do we have to vote for NDC and NPP in 2012?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Previous presidential and parliamentary elections had always been a contest between the ruling National Democratic Congress and the opposition New Patriotic Party with minor parties such as Convention People’s Party and PNC playing the role of king makers. There is no doubt that the 2012 elections will be a contest between NDC and NPP and many in the country who are very passionate of NDC and NPP will go heaven and earth to defend them even to death whether or not they have access to water, electricity, jobs or not. However it is abundantly clear that these two major parties which have ruled Ghana for most of her 52 years of independence have woefully underperformed and have failed to deliver Ghanaians from the tentacles of poverty. In short these parties have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that they do not care about the plights of Ghanaians.

NDC ruled Ghana for 8 years and NPP has also done the same but did any of them help to make Ghana a developed country? Did any of them solve the unemployment and housing problems in Ghana? How about electricity, education and health? Look at the poor nature of roads in Ghana. Do we deserve that? Can Ghanaians recall anything extraordinary that the NDC did before it was replaced by the NPP in 2000? Or anything remarkable that the NPP did before it was replaced by the NDC in 2008? And since taking office more than one year ago has the NDC done anything tangible to alleviate the suffering of Ghanaians? Any person who has been to Europe, Asia or America can say for sure that both major parties have not done much for Ghanaians.

Look at the state of Ghana's manufacturing sector. What do we produce? Close to nothing. What do we do with the cocoa that we produce? Don't we export the raw beans for peanuts? How about the gold and the diamond and the many minerals we mine? Aren't they exported to Switzerland and Dubai before Ghanaians go there to buy the wedding rings and bracelets to sell to us? Computers, cars, mobile phones, fridges are made in Europe, Japan and the US and they are affordable there but Ghanaians cannot buy common chocolate even though the vital raw material which is cocoa is produced here. And the same is true about gold and diamond. We cannot buy products made from them even though they are mined right here.

Look around yourself and see if any of the goods you see are made in Ghana. I mean the mobile phones, computers, televisions, cars and all the flashy things that Ghanaians are crazing for. It is sad to note that almost all the raw materials needed to build these phones, cars, plasma TVs, camcoders, satellite dishes are obtained from Ghana and other African countries. Has the NDC or the NPP helped us to build any of these things? No.

The reason why we are unable to convert these rich natural resources into finish goods to benefit ourselves is the poor manner in which the NPP and NDC have managed our country. Don't forget it is government that must take the initiative, provide the necessary environment and policy direction and resources for a strong manufacturing sector to take root. Look at the policies of both major parties and see if they can even put Ghana on the level of Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong in the next 20 years. Ghanaian business men and women are frequenting Dubai and China importing every good you can think of. Investigate to find out how the Chinese and the Koreans did it and whether any of the parties can help Ghana do the same. Didn't the NPP throw the NDC Vision 2020 Document that was supposed to make Ghana a middle income country into a dust bin? And do you think the NDC is going to implement Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) prepared by the NPP? This is the politics that has brought us no development but unemployment, poverty, hunger, misery and hopelessness and divisions.

So do they care, I mean NPP and NDC and do we have to vote them in 2012? Look at the state of Ghana's infrastructure: energy, roads, harbours, telecommunication, health, education, rail system, market and airport. What are the records of the two major parties on infrastructure? Have they been able to add anything to what Dr. Nkrumah built? Haven't they even neglected the few that Nkrumah built to decay? If you think I am not making any point just look at the state of our railway sector. Most of the tracks have been left to rot to the extent that there are no train services in many parts of the country which once relied on that vital means of transport. For decades that sector received no investments and no modernisation to the extent that it now takes about 10 hours to travel by train from Kumasi to Accra, a mere 200km. Compare that with a train service in Japan where it takes one hour to cover more than 270km. Despite having the advantage of being cost effective, cheap, reliable and business friendly 11 years of PNDC rule plus 8 years of NDC and another 8 years of NPP did not help the rail sector and our country except turning former poor soldiers and politicians into billionaires at the expense of our nation. After 52 years of independence and more than 28 years of (P)NDC and NPP rule our trains still run on engines that are 50 years old.

NDC and NPP have neglected Ghana's infrastructure needs for years, yet we have forgotten that no nation can develop without investing in infrastructure and technology. That is why Democratic Republic of Congo has every mineral you can think of yet it is one of the poorest in the world. That is why Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong have developed and that is why President Obama is talking about building US infrastructures because they are the engines that run the economy. You cannot export if you do not have harbours and airports to support it. You cannot attract tourists if you do not have airport, hotels, well developed roads and other infrastructures that support it. You cannot move goods from centres of production to centres of consumption if you do not have roads, rail lines and inland water infrastructures to deliver it. You cannot supply the industries with doctors, architects, bankers, lawyers, planners, engineers, teachers, nurses if you do not have the educational infrastructure to deliver it. And you cannot run an efficient and vibrant economy if you do not have the energy and telecommunication infrastructures in place.

Look at the state of Akosombo dam. Ghana is shut off anytime it refuses to rain yet we have had parties and their political leaders who have promised us so much yet have delivered so little. Ghana has been experiencing serious disruptions in the energy sector for years and no political party has seen any wisdom to solve it. As a result factories are folding up and are laying off workers and we are waiting for nature to help fill Akosombo Dam before we rectify the problem. Will these do nothing approaches to problem solving help our nation? What are we doing with the abundance of sunshine in the country? We have not taken advantage of it, have we? We have sunshine 365 days and we have not tap into solar energy which is cheap and more reliable than hydro.

In a situation that mimic problem facing the entire African region, the Finnish president on a visit to Nigeria in March 2009 asked, “Nigerian people have so much sun and wind, why don’t they use it for the generation of light for cooking and every other thing”? She queried, and added that “we do it in Finland for our renewable energy”. Source:, 12 March 2009. The sad story is that Finland and most of the nations in Europe are locked up for most of the year by cold winter but take advantage of the short summer to convert the little sunshine they receive into solar energy while here in Ghana we have sunshine most of the year but do nothing with it. Dwindling rainfall has limited the ability of Akosombo dam to produce the needed energy to support the economy. It is another indication of the useless institutions that we have and lip service paid by the various political parties and their leaders to Ghana's development.

There is entropy of organised traffic disorder and inefficient transport management system, poor public transport service in Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Koforidua and many major cities in the country. Road transport in the country is dominated by rickety trotro and accident prone taxis and buses. Many travellers travelling in our cities have to endure huge delays due to traffic congestion. In the evening between 5pm and 8pm travellers from Accra to Teshie-Nungua spend not less than three hours in traffic in a journey that should take them less than one hour and in the morning suffer the same fate. Those going from Accra-Circle to Achimota and Ofanko, and Accra-Circle to Legon and Adenta undergo similar traumatic experience. But the NDC and NPP governments that have ruled Ghana for most of her 52 years existence as an independent nation have done very little to ease the situation despite persistence protest by the people. The NDC and NPP and their so called policy makers have refused to solve the traffic problems in the country because they drive in and around the country in four wheel drives assisted by dispatch riders and sirens and therefore do not experience the difficulties that ordinary Ghanaians go through daily.

Look at the state of the agricultural sector. How many of our farmers have their own tractors and farming equipments to produce beyond the level of subsistence? Virtually all the important equipments needed to make the agric sector viable and productive have to be imported and how many of our farmers have their own resources to buy even the basic machinery to expand their farms? Today after 52 years of independence our farmers still depend on nature for water for their economic activities despite the availability of irrigation technology and what has the NDC and NPP done so far to help them? Aren't they still using cutlasses and hoes to plant and harvest their crops, technology our forefathers used before they were enslaved and colonised? Aren't they still relying on nature to plant their crops in this 21st Century? Aren't we still importing rice from India and China after nearly 53 years of self governance? We cannot even feed ourselves after 17 years of NDC and NPP rule. Where are the food sufficiency policies of the two major parties then? What are the many directors at the ministry of Agriculture who enjoy fat salaries and bonuses doing? Although we are in the 21st Century yet our farming practices indicate that we have still not moved beyond the 19th century. Fishermen are always faced with the constant shortage of premix fuel despite the pledge by both parties to help them. This is the more reason why we continue to hunger even though rich soils abound in Ghana.

It is common to hear Ghanaians say that 'Malaysians got their palm fruit seed from Ghana'. Well Malaysians use the oil they get from the palm fruit as fuel for a number of engines including cars, something they accomplished through research and we what do we use the oil for? It is sad to say that Malaysia got independence about the same time as Ghana but they have made great strides economically, while we have been marking time courtesy NDC and NPP. While the rest of the world is moving forward scientifically and technologically we are still marking time because of corruption, poor leadership, poor governance, and bogus agricultural and economic policies, politicisation of every national issue, tribalism, ethnicity and military incursions into our social, economic and political life.

If Agriculture which provides us about 35% of our GDP is bad, then can our educational sector upon which the development of the nation rest be any better? Aren't the NDC and NPP toying and playing politics with our secondary school system. The SSS (now SHS) was a three year programme when it first started. When the NPP replaced the NDC in 2001 they changed it to four years and now the NDC is considering reversing it to three years. Who are they fooling? Is it not Ghanaians, our economy and the future well-being of students who are going through these ill conceived education policies of NDC and NPP?

Is the entire educational system anything to be proud of? Just look at the world ranking of Universities and see where the first university falls. Of the about 9,760 Accredited universities in the World, Ghana's prominent universities including University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology only managed to place 5,702 and 6,703 positions respectively in the World University Ranking. Even in Africa, our own backyard they only managed to secure 43rd and 63rd positions respectively. (Source: Can we afford to develop the nation with ill-prepared graduates not to mention the millions of illiterates and semi-literates who roam around the cities and countryside?

Dr. Ave Kludze, a Ghanaian born top NASA Scientist in a rebuke of our leaders and our education system said in an interview with the CNN "no empire has ever achieved greatness without technology and the earlier the leaders realise this the better". He later told BBC that, "But where African schools have a problem, is that they focus heavily on theory, whereas [universities in the west] focus on the practical - solving real world problems.” Source:, Thursady, 12 February 2009.

It is abundantly clear that our education system is not producing the architects, engineers, planners, bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, nurses and the scientists that we need in the 21st Century. That is why every major architectural and engineering activity in Ghana is undertaken by foreigners and foreign companies especially from USA, Japan, China, India and the European Union.
An illustration of how bad the situation is was captured in a news report by Ghanaian Times headlined:

"Water Shortage: Experts Coming From S. Africa" which reported that "Experts from Ballest-Nedam, the Dutch company that installed the control panel at the intake pump station of the Weija Headworks are expected in Ghana on Thursday morning from South Africa to help repair the machine. This follows the inability of local experts to get the damaged electronic equipment fixed for the pump to function again. Mr Stanley Martey, Communication Manager of Aqua Viters Rand Limited, disclosing this to the ‘Times’ yesterday said AVRL was in touch with other experts in London and Holland for support in getting the engine to operate”, Source: Ghanaian Times, 09-Feb-2010.

Another news item reads: "Straight-talking Charles Kofi Wayo has poured scorn on engineers working at the gutted Tema Oil Refinery, asking if they qualify to even be called engineers when they cannot manufacture common bolts and have to wait for three months for foreign expertise to fix the minutest of problems. "If you have engineers there why is it that one small bolt you have to wait for a white man two, three months. You can’t even make your own bolts…You can’t even tool anything down there, even gasket - common gasket when it blows, you shut down the RFCC and stuff like that so where are the engineers? Where are the engineers? Source:, Thursday, 21 January 2010.

The simple truth is that our students are not able to invent neither do our experts able to repair even broken machines and experts have to be brought from elsewhere. We cannot blame our universities for failing to produce high quality graduates and experts because they have mounting resource problems. The Universities lack well trained lecturers. They lack modern facilities such as state of the art libraries, laboratory simulation facilities, studios, computers, projectors, internet facilities, constant energy supply and books. They lack them because we the NPP and NDC governments have failed to invest and build them; we cannot build them because the curricula have not prepared our students to build them. As a result we have to import the equipments and books from countries that have done their home work well and have invested heavily in education notably in science and technology.

In many of our universities, Polytechnics and secondary schools lecturers/teachers are still teaching students the same way the 19th century academic institutions taught forgetting that we are in the 21st century. The same notes given a final year student four years ago are still being given to first year students with no addition or subtraction. Lecturers cannot write books for students because they do not have the resources to carry out research that form the basis of any academic material.

Whereas students in advanced countries get their hands on books immediately they are released those in Ghana have to wait 4 years or even more to get the same books. What is more the academic facilities including libraries are in a state too appalling to describe. Not a single of our universities can boast of a million volumes of books in their libraries. Even the few text books that they have are so old that information contained in them are useless. Very few books have been published by Ghanaians. Due to this most students have to rely on the notes that lecturers give them. In Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology as it is in many of our higher institutions of learning students do not have access to proper accommodation, food and shelter. Room which once housed one student at KNUST officially houses four students and that is when a student is lucky to have his name shortlisted by the authorities.

This is state of our universities and the little I say about our Polytechnics and secondary schools the better.

And who do we blame other than NDC and NPP governments that have received billions of dollars in loans, grants and taxes and yet cannot invest some of it to develop and transform it into our education sector. Nothing get discussed in the country without NPP and NDC die-hards injecting politics into it and Ghana has paid a huge price as a result of that. Our higher institutions found themselves in this bad situation because for decades the NDC and NPP have been talking left while walking right playing politics with anything that matter to the nation.

The streets of Accra, Kumasi and other major cities in the country are swarmed with children selling ice water, bread, chewing gums and anything that can be hawked. Children head potters are visible every where in Kumasi, Accra, Tema and Koforidua, a clear manifestation of the misery and hopelessness that the NDC and NPP have brought to Ghanaians. These are the children who are supposed to be in the classroom and be trained as future leaders but have to abandon the classroom and scavenge for food because the NPP and NDC do not care about them.

When they drive in their expensive tax-payers' Land Cruisers do the NPP and NDC MPs, ministers, Vice Presidents, the Presidents and their advisors see the children who live, sell, and are taught by the street in Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Takoradi and Koforidua?

Do you know why NDC and NPP keep toying with Ghana's education? Because they want to keep the people in darkness so no one will rise up to challenge their corrupt and useless administrations. Ask the President or his vice or their ministers where their children are schooling now and you will understand why they don't give a damn about SHS, Poly or University education. Their children are schooling in expensive universities in Europe and North America. And as to how they pay for those expensive fees your guess will be as good as mine.

When their children finish their education overseas they stay there and work. They only return to Ghana when there are big contracts where they would make millions of dollars for staying away and doing nothing for the nation, and what do the poor Ghanaians who could not travel to study outside and had to pass through God knows what get? Nothing - no contract, no retirement packages, just poverty.

Our research institutions have achieved very little because they are underfunded and the researchers do not have the expertise and the facilities to carry out any meaningful research. A case in point is Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) located at New Tafo in the Eastern Region. Despite decades of its existence we still export raw cocoa beans for peanuts. No value has been added to the cocoa. CRIG has not been able to come up with other ways in which to use the beans to benefit Ghanaians despite the mounting evidence that the beans have several potential uses.

Have you visited Korle Bu or Komfo Anokye or any of our hospitals lately? Didn't you see patients lying on the floor even though they are sick and are suppose to be receiving care? If Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye hospitals are crying for resources then you can imagine the situation at Donkokrom. And where is the NDC and NPP that you want to die for or support so blindly? Where in Ghana are mosquitoes not widespread? Are we not still dying from mosquito bites and other minor and preventable diseases? Despite NDC and NPP pledges, our hospitals are without the basic essentials needed to run a hospital not to mention the advanced technologies that save millions of lives in Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Japan and America. And NDC and NPP what are they doing? According to peacefmonline "888 out of every 100,000 pregnant women in Ghana who visit the hospital, end up dying. Another expert, whose statistics were even more frightening said, out of every 1,000 pregnant women about 451 die". Source:, Thursday, 23 July 2009.

How about the state of the housing infrastructure? A visit to any village or town gives the same picture of poor housing and poor quality of public service. People are living in mud/thatched houses with bamboo/raffia leafs as roofing sheet with no electricity, potable water and clinics. They live in a subsistence environment without social security, health insurance and are condemned to poverty, desperation and hopelessness. Those living in urban areas are without jobs, without mortgage, and face high utility bills with poor public services. They face constant barrage of water and energy disruptions everyday. In every region the situation is not different. Go to Nima, Agbogloshie, New Town, James Town, Sodom & Gomorrah and see the kind of living conditions and environment in which fellow Ghanaians are living in this 21st Century. People are living in squalid conditions not even fit for animals yet we have NDC and NPP always promising to build us castles, swimming pools and what have you.

The problems of waste management in the cities and the associated health effect on the people need no telling. Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan authorities and other city authorities are struggling with waste management issues due to lack of vehicles, waste treatment plants and inadequate personnel capacity. Sewerage in the country is almost non-existent, with only a portion of Accra, Tema, Kumasi and few regional capitals enjoying piped sewerage services. There is no centralized wastewater treatment system in most of the cities and households and commercial premises generally have no onsite flush latrines. Within Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tema and most of the cities and towns solid waste is unhygienically burned, disposed; and indiscriminate dumping of waste is creating health problems. There are few cities and towns with reliable piped water supply. Many residence of Accra do not have access to good drinking water and many households have to resort to extreme measures to be able to cope. In short the infrastructures to deliver water to the people do not exist courtesy NPP and NDC.

Majority of the people in Teshie and Nungua have no access to toilet facilities and have to use the coast as places of convenience and even in those places where there are few toilet facilities you could hardly stand the stench. Please you can verify this by going to where Dutch Hotel is situated at Nungua and witness how people troop to the coast in the morning to attend nature's call. On the other hand the NDC and NPP MPs, ministers, vice president, the president, their cronies and families live in total luxury with mansions, sport utility vehicles, bodyguards, fat salaries, fat bonuses, house servants and they have all the resources of the state at their disposal. When they leave office they propose special emolument packages for themselves yet they claim to be serving the poor. How can it be?

I can continue all day but it is a fact that both the NDC and NPP are bunches of hungry politicians with no concrete economic and social agenda to move Ghana beyond the level of importing used computers, used cars, used televisions, used underwear and any used thing you can think of. What are all these telling you about Ghana, the NPP, and the NDC? Do we have any option not to vote for them in 2012? Why should Ghanaians continue to die and suffer for such people who only think about their stomach? These leaders and their parties always play on the ignorance of the people promising them heaven but failing to even provide them earth. Until we have leaders who have vision like Dr. Nkrumah and are committed to industrialise Ghana beyond agro raw material production and export, Ghana will continue to be classified as a developing and poor country and even though we will continue to vote we will continue to wallow in abject poverty as we have always done.

I want to urge every Ghanaian to seek education and knowledge which I believe will help us to question our leaders and demand accountability from them. I also want to challenge the various TV and radio stations to devote money and resources to embark on documentaries on what it really means to live in poverty in Ghana under the NPP and NDC, documentaries and programmes that will show Ghanaians the living conditions of the people in rural areas and expose the lies of the NDC and NPP. And to the parasitic NDC and NPP I say 52 years is enough for us to see real development in the country.

Lord Aikins Adusei

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Missing files and Tender Entrepreneur Brokers

“The abuse of entrusted power for private gain is always fine for the one person doing it, but it becomes catastrophic if everybody starts doing it.” - David Pitt-Watson

Last night on the news, Kenyans got to witness Dorothy Angote, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands leading what was a day-long graft busting raid on junior officials in her Ministry. The Ministry which handles nearly five million title deeds, has been continuously been named as being one of the top most corrupt public institutions in the country. For her efforts, the PS unearthed thousands of files that had been stashed, some of which had been “missing” since the 1990s.

Kenyans have long become used to the phantom menace called “missing” files. The ghost appears out of nowhere just when one needs to undertake a transaction with the government.

Anyway, Dorothy Angote’s impromptu raid at least saved some Kenyans from the cartel of rogue officers at the Lands ministry as well as what we shall politely call brokers, agents or tender entrepreneurs.

However, Ms. Angote’s prescription to the problem falls short of expectation when she announced that there would be a reshuffle and disciplinary actions for the errant officers. If the Lands Ministry was a private business, for sure at least there would have been mass summary dismissals, if not court prosecutions. To send a clear message, the punishment must be clear.

Kenya has not been alone in handling rogue brokers that encourage public sector corruption. South Africa has also been dealing with such brokers who because of their close connections to the political elite, seem to be amassing great wealth to the detriment of hard working entrepreneurs.

Bobby Godsell the chairman of Business Leadership South Africa was recently mentioned in the media calling for South Africans to stand up to tender entrepreneurs who benefited from state contracts.

He likened this business practice to "a form of economic terrorism" that imposes “a cost on state services and conferring no benefit”.

This came in the wake of allegations that the country’s ruling party ANC’s youth leader Julius Malema's who the BBC recently described28, a little overweight, impeccably dressed, and rather fond of referring to himself with the royal ‘we’” had irregularly personally benefited from lucrative government contracts. However, Mr. Malema has denied accusations of unearned wealth by saying that he is merely the victim of a political conspiracy and a racist plot. 
Indeed Malema is just another example of South Africa’s “bling culture” which has for some compromised ethical business behaviour. Entrepreneurs have had to be linked to a politically connected personalities in order to effectively compete on the public sector market.

Back in Kenya, business cronyism in the tender sector has led to great resistance each time the government tries to institute measures that will even out the information asymmetry when it comes to public procurement. 

As we mentioned almost two years ago, the broker sector in Kenya has also become a culture where:
“You need a middle man to manoeuvre public processes. For instance, if one goes to the companies, lands or court registries, you have to more or less fight your way to the front of the queue. Brokers have taken precedence and because they have managed to become acquainted with the public officers, they tend to get their work done first … “
And it is this lack of transparent systems and promulgation of red-tape that have been a boon for the broker community. The cost imposed on not just entrepreneurs but every taxpayer in muddling through bureaucratic systems is what ensures that brokers shall always be in demand. After all, the opportunity cost of giving a broker a facilitation fee and lunch money to ensure that your application is submitted or your file is found, is much less than the cost of having to leave your business in order to chase up the matter yourself.

Then there is the issue of business competitiveness which has also had an impact on the need to fast-track (at whatever cost) government procedures. Bending the rules and paying the occasional bribe just to get a process fast tracked or even to be awarded a contract are common dilemmas faced by today’s entrepreneur. Moreover if one is doing it, then you can bet that others just to stay ahead of the competition will also do so.

It has now become recognised that an important catalyst to business growth is enabling entrepreneurs to compete on the public procurement market. And it is encouraging that young entrepreneurs are taking on the bottlenecks in the public sector, and developing new applications that equalize information asymmetries and promote transparency whilst combating public sector corruption. One such business is Tenders Unlimited, a new Kenyan business startup that provides databased access to tenders to business people.

Reducing the opportunity costs of red-tape frees up resources for more productive activities as well as spurring wider economic growth. Thus computerization of government documents should be implemented.

And finally to put rogue brokers out of business, procedures that require in-person attendance should be minimised. As seen by the influx of mobile phone money transfer systems onto the market, banks are now joining the fray and offering mobile payment systems that will eliminate the need for people to stand in long queues just to get their bank statements. Without ZAP and MPesa, chances are that the traditional banks would not have brought banking services closer to the people.

Now we are asking the government to bring it’s services closer to us taxpayers too.

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