February 2010


A delegation of media representatives from Ghana visited U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) headquarters as part of an orientation program to offer an in-depth look at the command’s mission, February 22-26, 2010. (africom.mil)

STUTTGART, Germany - Members of a Ghanaian media delegation meet with General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, during the delegation's visit to the command headquarters, February 26, 2010. Throughout the week, the journalists met with senior staff members of U.S. Africa Command and received in-depth briefings on the command, its programs and how it engages with Ghana and other African nations during events such as Africa Partnership Station (APS). The visitors traveled to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to meet Major General Ron Ladnier, U.S. Air Forces Africa and 17th Air Force commander, and his staff. They also toured American Forces Network-Europe studios in Mannheim, Germany, and met with the European Stars and Stripes staff in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Petty Officer Daniel P. Lapierre, U.S. Africa Command)

The group consisted of four prominent Ghanaian journalists, an information officer with the Ghanaian Ministry of Information, a public affairs officer from the Ghanaian Navy, and a media specialist from the U.S. Embassy in Accra.


The delegation members were:
Samuel Appiah Darko – Joy FM
R. Harry Reynolds – New Times Corporation
Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu – Graphic Communications Group
George Nayken – Ghana News Agency
Lieutenant Commander Veronica Arhin, Ghanian Navy
Gordon Deku Zaney – Information Services Department, Ministry of Information
Joyce Okyere Asiedu – US Embassy-Accra Media Specialist

The weeklong visit to the command, in which they met with senior staff members to discuss the command’s programs and activities, culminated in interviews with the deputy to the commander for military operations, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, and the commander of U.S. Africa Command, General William “Kip” Ward.

STUTTGART, Germany - Members of a Ghanaian media delegation listen to Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, deputy to the commander for military operations for U.S. Africa Command, explain how the command was established during the delegation’s visit to command headquarters, February 26, 2010. Throughout the week, the journalists met with senior staff members of U.S. Africa Command and received in-depth briefings on the command, its programs and how it engages with Ghana and other African nations in events such as Africa Partnership Station (APS). The visitors traveled to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to meet Major General Ron Ladnier, U.S. Air Forces Africa and 17th Air Force commander, and his staff. They also toured American Forces Network-Europe studios in Mannheim, Germany, and met with the European Stars and Stripes staff in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Photo by Petty Officer Daniel P. Lapierre, U.S. Africa Command)

The delegation received in-depth briefings on the command, its programs and how it conducts military-to-military activities with Ghana and other African nations.

Ward was also able to clarify misunderstood issues about the command, such as how it works with the militaries in Africa and basing.

STUTTGART, Germany - Members of a Ghanaian media delegation meet with Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command’s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, during a visit to the command headquarters, February 23, 2010. Throughout the week, the Ghanaian journalists were scheduled to meet with senior leaders from U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Air Forces Africa and tour the facilities of Stars and Stripes and the American Forces Network. (Photo by Danielle Skinner, U.S. Africa Command)

“We recognize, we appreciate and we respect the sovereignty of our partner nations,” Ward explained. “… We have no design, no intent of telling you what to do, absolutely not.”

One journalist, Samuel Appiah Darko, of Ghana’s Joy FM radio, indicated that his listeners still wonder “what AFRICOM is all about” and whether it intends to establish bases in Africa.

… Ward said, “We have done absolutely nothing that would substantiate that impression, and we’re not going to do anything. There is no intention of setting up bases in Africa.”

The wooing seems to be working:

Ghana is serving as a main hub for the APS flag ship, the USS Gunston Hall. The Gunston Hall will spend the month of March in Ghana …
George Nayken of the Ghana News Agency has covered previous United States ship visits to Ghana. He said he was thankful to the command for hosting the group and for the access they were provided.

He said there has been “a lot of suspicion and fear about the command. But I believe if more public education were to take place, people would not fear the command.

“We need more education on the command,” added Nayken, who has covered previous United States ship visits to Ghana. “The U.S. military is not trying to impose itself on Africa.”

“It’s been a very good experience … getting to know things first hand,” said Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu, a journalist with the Graphics Communications Group, which publishes the largest daily newspaper in Ghana, the Ghana Graphic, during his visit to AFN-Europe.

He said before visiting the command, he didn’t know what to believe and indicated there is “so much misinformation out there. We’ve received the message; the command is not what people say (it is).”

In their clarifications Gen. Ward and Adm. Moeller did not provide the same clarifications they supplied to the American Congress and officials. As Daniel Volman writes:

… neither the commander of Africom, General William Ward, nor his deputy, Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, are under any illusions about the purpose of the new command.

Thus, when General Ward appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on March 13, 2008, he cited America’s growing dependence on African oil as a priority issue for Africom and went on to proclaim that combating terrorism would be “Africom’s number one theater-wide goal.” He barely mentioned development, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping or conflict resolution.

And in a presentation by Vice Admiral Moeller at an Africom conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008 and subsequently posted on the web by the Pentagon, he declared that protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” was one of Africom’s “guiding principles” and specifically cited “oil disruption,” “terrorism,” and the “growing influence” of China as major “challenges” to U.S. interests in Africa.

And from Michael Klare:

… Although department of defence officials are loath to publicly acknowledge any direct relationship between Africom’s formation and a growing US reliance on that continent’s oil, they are less inhibited in private briefings. At a 19 February [2008] meeting at the National Defence University, Africom deputy commander Vice-Admiral Robert Moeller indicated that “oil disruption” in Nigeria and West Africa would constitute one of the primary challenges facing the new organisation.

There have been discussions and disagreements within the US as to whether the US needs a base on the African continent, although it already has Djibouti. Presently the US is planning for moving to seabasing. The African Partnership Station is a part of this transition to seabasing. Here is a discription from US Marine Corps Seabasing Brochure (PDF).

Seabasing – A Port and Airfield at Sea

Seabasing is the idea that we can
establish a joint port and airfield
at sea that would allow for followon
forces, allow for combined forces,
allow for whatever we thought we needed
to move ashore, either in a lethal environment or in a
humanitarian environment.”
General James T. Conway
Commandant of the Marine Corps

The Seabasing Story

There has been a significant reduction in overseas bases and
basing rights in the last 25 years due to economics and declining
political acceptance of US military boots on the ground
. This has
resulted in a “transformation” for the US military, changing from

a forward based military to a CONUS [continental United States] projected,
expeditionary force.

The challenge with this basing reality is the widely-shared view
in our national security and defense strategies that in order to
reduce the ability of extremists to attack our interests at home
and abroad we must prevent them from gaining a foothold in
other countries
. We must be there to assist countries without
maintaining a large presence ashore while integrating and applying
a combination of our national capabilities with those of international
partners.

Fortunately, the United States possesses an asymmetric advantage
in this regard: Seabasing. However, the Seabasing capability
currently resident in the Navy-Marine Corps team is not sufficient
to support large scale joint operations of extended duration and
is dependent upon secure ports and airfields ashore.

To realize this new vision we must develop cargo transfer, handling
and stowage technologies into our new ships and develop high
speed craft and connector capabilities. A new connector capability
ship, the Mobile Landing Platform, will be a key enabler.

The cost of Seabasing is considerably less than the costs for
forward basing forces especially when considering the reduced
force protection costs and political concerns associated when
burdening host nations with military presence on
the ground
.

Seabasing will allow for Joint,
Interagency and Multinational
persistent forward presence which
will help preserve global freedom
of action, strengthen existing and
emerging alliances, and better
protect our national interests.

Seabasing is a concept that enables employing the
full range of government capabilities from the sea.
Innovations in shipbuilding, cargo handling, at sea
transfer and sea based defense systems allowed the
Seabasing concept to become a reality. Currently in
order to employ an expeditionary force of 15,000 or
greater, a secure port and or airfield ashore is needed,
however by 2022 it will be possible to do this at sea.

Such a capability recognizes that nations are
increasingly placing restrictions on or denying the use
of their facilities at a time when we must have a greater
forward presence to reduce the ability of extremists
to gain a foothold or disrupt the flow of commerce
.
Seabasing will allow the use of the world’s oceans as
large or small scale Joint, Multinational and
Interagency bases for operations without dependence
on ports or airfields ashore. We must be present to
be a part of the solution and protect
our interests.

One of the questions is, who decides who are extremists. As we already know, one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. And the US may decide a legitimate government is an extremist government, wherein “extremism” means that government sees the interests of its own country as different from the interests of the US.

In 1984 John Stockwell wrote In Search of Enemies. This included the first public documentation of the key role the US played in the overthrow of Nkrumah. The United States appears to be in a more vigorous search than ever for people it can call enemies.

Earlier this February Ambassador Mary C. Yates, AFRICOM’s deputy to the commander for civil military activities, met with Ghanaian journalists in Takoradi, from africom.mil:

AMB. YATES: … I think that the African Partnership Station that the commodore and the USS Nashville represents is sort of the representative of what we’re trying to do at the Africa Command. You know, if we’re trying to do sustained security engagement with our African partners, this is the proof of it. And the African Partnership Station had a full schedule of stops in ’07-’08 and now this is the ’09 deployment and it’s — is it five-months long this year? — five-months long this year. And you noticed Ghana made the hit parade again, so I’m delighted.

Ambassador Mary C. Yates, lower right, meets with Ghanaian journalists March 2, 2009, to discuss the dramatic increase in narcotics and illegal fishing in West Africa. Yates was visiting West African nations to discuss ways to increase cooperation in stemming the illegal flow of drugs, as well as illegal fishing and other criminal trafficking. (Photo by Vince Crawley, U.S. Africa Command)

What I hope we can talk about are some of the critical issues of counternarcotics, other illegal trafficking and illegal fishing; and that was one of the reasons I went to the fishing village. And one thing that I think is interesting is –I’m a stranger in a military command –I was a diplomat here and I’m still a diplomat –it’s the first time a military command has allowed a deputy slot to be filled by a civilian, a State Department diplomat. But the issues that we’re talking about right here are a good example of why this is important; because these are not issues that just have military solutions.

In your government it is much broader; you have a ministry of fisheries and you have a – the interior, you have the police, and these are all people I’ll be calling on in Accra. But your government and our government, we have to look at it in a broader way. So one of the things I’ve done is reach out to other law-enforcement agencies: the Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, TSA, our Treasury Department so we can trace the money, where the illegal money is going.

And we are bringing representatives of all of those agencies into the Africa Command to advise the military and help plan the programs; but it’s equally important that when I come to your nations I listen to you. In Cape Verde we had a roundtable that had the police and had other — because, you know, Cape Verde is the first stopping point of all those drugs coming across from Latin America.

So it’s very important for me to listen to not only the military in your country but the other civilian organizations that are concerned with the illegal and illicit trafficking. I’m going to get to your questions in just a moment, but I have to tell you that since I left Ghana — that was in August of ’05 — and at that time even before I left, President Kufuor had raised his concern about the increase in narcotics trafficking and his concerns for Ghana. But it is absolutely shocking what has happened; it is shocking the increase in the drugs flowing from South America through the West Coast of Africa and into Europe.

The estimate right now is that $2 billion dollars of cocaine traffics through West Africa — that’s $2 billion worth — that is twice Ghana’s annual gold exports. So you put it in perspective, $2 billion. Now, that’s not all trafficking through Ghana but throughout West Africa. They estimate it’s between 40 and 50 tons of cocaine. But the good news story in this is that in the last four or five years, the seizure of cocaine has almost tripled.

So that’s why it’s so important that Commodore Thebaud comes with the Nashville. We work with the militaries here and the other organizations so they learn search and seizure, they learn how surveillance and reconnaissance and figure out how to stop this. I have seen from talking to the people at our Southern Command that work with Latin America how it destroys entire countries.

The drug cartels take over the country so your government doesn’t have the power and it takes years, if not decades, to reclaim your country. And there’s time for Ghana and the countries of West Africa to hold on to their governance and their country. And I should have started by congratulation Ghana on the elections; I want you to know that in Europe and in America, Ghana is seen as a beacon and a light of democracy in Africa.

So you want to hang on to that good governance so that the country can prosper and the people can move, you know, into the middle class and beyond. I’m going to stop in just a moment. Another worrying statistic is about the seizure and how many of the flights — it’s not just maritime — how many of the flights are coming from Ghana. Of all of the cocaine seized in Europe, 8 percent were on flights coming out of Ghana. So we’ve got to work with the air authorities as well, the air-security authorities.

But I’m very pleased that the cocaine seizures have gone up; I’m just terribly worried about the increase. And, more and more, the South African cartels want to make the payment in product not in cash. So that means the product comes in here, the cocaine comes into your country as well; and that is a surefire way to begin to destroy the fabric of your society. So I don’t want to end on such a depressing note. I actually — who was with me in the fishing village? You were all there.

Well, I want to hear your impressions because it was fascinating to me that on the grassroots level, to listen to Nana (sp), who’s trying to take care of his village and he sees the trawlers come in from foreign countries, in close enough so that the life that he and his village have known for decades, if not centuries, is being disrupted. So we need to help him find a way, and you as journalists can find a way to surveil that and get that back to the authorities so they can come up with a plan and try and address it.

So that is equally important to the illicit trafficking and the narcotics because, as I said in my comments to the folks on board, if my statistics are right that 60 percent of the protein that Ghanaians eat comes from fishing; goodness, gracious, you know, you want to be able to sustain the population. Sorry I didn’t mean to take so much time; I just get excited. (Laughter.)

Q: Like you said, I’ve worked with you some time back when you were in Ghana and I’m so happy for this particular trip. I would like to start from the fishing village and their concerns. You realize that they as fishermen who have to go up there to take pictures of the trawlers — I’m taking about the trawlers where they put –(inaudible) — it depletes everything scooping it. And when they go out there and they take their pictures and they bring it to that NGO, Friends of the Nation, who ensures that action is taken against those people; because we are making their livelihood useless if and — to say that.

Now when it goes there and nobody does anything about it, you’re where?

AMB. YATES: But you’re the fourth column; you’re the watchdog.

Q: Of course, we — my president will tell you that some of our guys in the central region did that and the former minister for fisheries actually said it wasn’t true when they brought out the pictures and notices because in all these things that we are doing trying to fight for the people, the big men walking the corridors of power will actually sideline us …

Q: And, also, I would like to know — you talk about the fishery sector. I don’t know if there’s going to be an aspect that you’re going to move down to get these people involved, because, honestly, these people, when the cocaine was floating in Axim somewhere in 2007 — I was in Axim — I don’t actually know what exactly the parcel is and some people even use it as powder until they finally started feeling dizzy and then the cartel — those people involved move into the environs, move into the community and frankly then they’ve got to know the value of it.

So if the fishermen don’t know that their job went beyond — what you call it — fishing — and also have a role to play in the maritime domain. And you educate them, because most of the time they have a row with the navy; they don’t see them as partners; they see them as people who oppressors.

So what exactly do you have in the package for them to be able to identify certain things and be able to say this or be able to spot a vessel and say, this one looks suspicious, this one looks bad — because it seems to be those that are normally used until the issues came out.

AMB. YATES: Well, in a general sense, I can say that I know that some of the training that they are doing on the USS Nashville — and there are 18 different nations on that ship and I had the pleasure of having dinner with some of them last night — but maritime domain awareness is certainly one of the courses that are taught. Now, the next step will be having the Ghanaian navy listen to the villagers and share what they’ve learned. Would you like to say anything about the maritime domain awareness, I mean, the type, I mean who gets instructed and I’m not as aware of the details of that.

CAPT. THEBAUD: As I think you know, we are working a number of workshops and seminars both with navy and civilian people having to do with a wide variety of maritime security issues. I’m helping to discuss and build some plans for oil rig security, port security.

The Coast Guard is here running some courses on maritime law enforcement and also the process for going aboard and inspecting vessels and verifying their documents and that they’re doing things that they’re legitimately authorized to do. And some of that is with your Navy personnel and some of that is from civilians, other organizations.

As I think you know, last fall there was a transfer of three small boats, patrol boats, that the Ghanaian Navy has now been using and going out — (inaudible, background noise) — and being able to respond a little better to things that are close in shore. And they have had one of them down in the Tema-Accra region, operating down there and they keep one here. And there’s one that’s going through some maintenance right now.

We have also worked with the Ghana Navy on enhancing — this is for bigger ships — but AIS, which is Automated Information System, kind of like IFF for ships. And we’re looking at ways to expand that system. That is great for vessels that are broadcasting the way they’re supposed to, but it’s hard if you don’t know that they’re out there and they’re not broadcasting.

So there are some other ideas that are being formulated that hopefully we can bring down to Ghana within the next year or so. And all of that is being worked in concert with your Navy and the embassy: what the priorities are for Ghana.

AMB. YATES: Maybe what the media could do is, after the Ghanaian Navy go through this training and courses, maybe you can ask for a briefing. And you have a dialogue with the Ghanaian Navy and you help be the conduit to the people so that they understand that their navy are working, that their Navy is working on their behalf, that the reason they’re getting this training is to try and be able to do search and seizure and find out. But I think you could play a very constructive role

CAPT. THEBAUD: On account that they will plan to use the information that they have learned to challenge them.

AMB. YATES: Mm-hmm, challenge them.

Q: I think I would want to know whether the folks along the coasts, like where we visited, now, most of the time, you realize that these ships carrying the drugs, they sometimes come up there and they ask the canoe fisherman to cart the narcotics to the shore, to bring it onshore for them.

AMB. YATES: I’m not aware of that, but, I mean, I believe what you’re saying to me.

Q: Because the Prampram issue: for example, the one that happened in Ghana here, where they used a local fisherman to bring the stuff down here. So what I want to know is the relationship between this project and those along the coasts – not just the patrolling and the fishing and all of this — but to educate them as well, to understand that, look, this thing can destroy, it can do that; so they should not – how are you doing that as well, if indeed you are aware that they can use the fisherman in carting down their goods?

AMB. YATES: Well, certainly what I’m doing is a little different than what the U.S. military, who are on the USS Nashville, in my visit, not only am I trying to raise people’s consciousness about this and, again, you are the ones who will carry that message, but when I speak with the senior leadership in Accra, I will raise it again. But I think that anytime you can get a hold of UNODC, the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, their statistics, they’ve got reports out. They held a big conference in Cape Verde a few months ago; Ghanaians participated.

Get those statistics and publish them — but also there could be little teach-in seminars in villages so people begin to understand. So I think anything you can do to help stop the threat and the menace now will be the right thing to do for Ghana.

Q: But even to — to get your point that we might not even receive funding to be able to do that. Is it like –let’s say if the local association of journalists who want to do that kind of educational program will hit the end of the road because there might not be funding for us. You send beautiful proposals and this is where you hear big English like, oh, you didn’t bring it on time. We spent already our budget and–

AMB. YATES: (Chuckles.) Is that called “big English?” (Laughter.)

Q: Big English.

AMB. YATES: I learned a new term after all of this time.

Q: Because if they don’t want to give it to you, they’ll find an excuse and that is big English to me. (Laughter.)

AMB. YATES: Actually, one thing that we are building inside the Africa Command is we’re trying to have a strong CNT office, counter-narcotics and terrorism. And they come with some of their own funds. We are sending people out to do assessment missions and, again, it’s not just the military; we have a DEA agent, we have the FBI, we have somebody from State international narcotics and law enforcement.

So we are trying to find where in West Africa our programs will be most effective because we don’t have unlimited resources. But we will take this back as an idea that the grassroots education is really important, exactly because that’s where the drugs, as you say, are arriving. So you can take this back to the embassy as well.

MR. EAST: Send us your proposal for our “big English?” (Laughter.)

Q: But I think we mentioned about the volume of the coke trade; we want to talk about the fact that it transcends — (inaudible). One thing that I think is important that you have to note is the fact that, the trick is that it’s more lucrative than the fishing industry. (Inaudible)– fisherman were lying — (inaudible) — yet the transporter. So perhaps it could be one thing with the program of enforcement.

AMB. YATES: Yes.

Q: Two, the lucrative aspects and, three –(inaudible) — to cooperate. And even sometimes we even get to hear it, that they then said might be wrong? (inaudible) — might be wrong. That one as to how we can go on the sea in — (inaudible).

AMB. YATES: Or expose it, you know. But you have to be sure of your facts.

Q: Yeah.

Q: There is also another issue that we need to really touch on in your meeting — (inaudible). It’s the fact that political leadership has not been the best. Of course, our poor journalists have reported about this, naturally — (inaudible). It is not through or even at the point — maybe — (inaudible) — look at the — (inaudible) and say you are being — (inaudible) — this party.

And that’s a problem. You mentioned they’re going to just elicit a lot response. So what I’m saying that what exactly could be done about enforcement and the volume of trade, the part that transcends — (inaudible). And then what exactly political vision — (inaudible) — you to do to make it a policy — (inaudible) — for example, the community should be aware that the drug trade is a menace even to the future of our children. Very soon, when the — (inaudible) — gets more, they will not attend those — (inaudible).

AMB. YATES: That’s right. Well, those are just all wonderful comments and observations. And clearly all of you are aware of the things that I said. I mean, you’re aware of the threat.

(Off-side conversation. – Amb. Yates handed a note by staff)

What, I mean, the observations you’ve made need to be made more publicly and you are making your politicians accountable. And that’s what’s going to happen. I mean, outsiders can’t come in and solve this, but certainly if you look at the lessons of Colombia, Mexico, of Afghanistan, you don’t want to lose your country.

So there will be politicians — and Ghana has much of the legislation in place? it has to be the implementation. So if we get people trained to do the patrolling and then if we help strengthen the judiciary and the rule of law so that there will be prosecutions as well to those who are trafficking so it doesn’t seem to be the right way to go.

You know, when we walked in here, there were black clouds out there. And the note I was just passed was: “The storm is moving in and we have to go get on the plane right now” — so that I can get back to Accra.

But let me just take one more question. Bridget, can you check and see if — do I have five minutes? Can one of you just see whether I — I’d like to just give a couple of the other journalists a chance, but I don’t want to come down in the sea.

Q: How long will this visit last and how many of our sailors can be trained? After the training, without the requisite equipment, what would they do?

AMB. YATES: Well, the commodore will be better to answer that, but the Africa Partnership Station, I said, had its first round of training with multiple tours in West Africa last year. This training is five months long, but this stay in Ghana is for the training here. But what we hope is that the Africans who are trained — and we have Mozambiqueans over, we have a Brazilian here — we hope after they’re trained they go back and train others so that there’s a repeater effect going on.

But already I know the U.S. Navy is working and planning for the next Africa Partnership Station. It is something we’re dedicated to and General Ward, when he talks about the sustained security engagement, that’s what he means: We’re not going to be episodic as we’ve been in the past. We have a new Africa Command where we focus on Africa 24/7. So we hope to have programs that match that.

But then you and your military have to step up, too, and keep training others.

Q: I think my question is for the commodore.

CAPT THEBAUD: I want to go back to your question, too. But I hear a lot. How do we know this is going to continue? You need to go back and look at the relationship between the U.S. Navy and the Ghana navy. There has been a long-standing relationship between the U.S. Navy and Ghana. And there seems to be a lot of concern that it’s going to end. But I think, as long as Ghana keeps moving forward and keeps doing things with the information, the training and the resources, that partnership is going to continue.

Q: But mine has to do with logistics for the Ghana navy. After the training, if the needed logistics are not there –

CAPT THEBAUD: Let me get back to that. Questions for the ambassador, okay?

AMB. YATES: Just what we were saying: She is not going to get on a plane so I may leave her –

CAPT. THEBAUD: I’m staying here. (Chuckles.)

AMB. YATES: All right. She’s with the ship. So how about — any last question for me and I’m going to go. Hopefully the plane won’t come down. Yes?

Q: Here in Takoradi, the fisherman said that they take pictures and give them to our NGO. And I –(inaudible)–NGO is not actually there to help the fisherman; they’re there to help themselves. So there’s a need to educate the fisherman to know where the appropriate channels are –

(Cross talk.)

Q: Because that NGO, Friends of the Nation, they are there for themselves. They are not to help –

AMB. YATES: I don’t know anything about the NGOs so I don’t have an opinion on that. But, truly, they need to be helped to get the word to the authority. So you’re correct. And if you have another way of doing that, you know, you can –

Q: (Inaudible) – Maybe you can help us speak big English.

AMB. YATES: And if they don’t even speak English — (inaudible, laughter). You start publishing the photos in the paper and somebody will have to read it.

AMB.: You get the pictures for the NGOs and you print the pictures.

Q: They may not bring them to us.

AMB.: Ask them. (Laughter.)

AMB. YATES: Thank you all. And I’m so sorry I have to cut this short, but I have to go talk to the “big English” guys back at Accra. Okay, thank you. Are you staying here?

MR. EAST: I’m staying here so –

(END)

I wish I could have confidence that the US was actually helping deal with the drugs and fishing. Ghana could use some genuine help in this. Off Somalia, where the US has a huge naval presence, it has done nothing to curb illegal fishing, which has devastated the Somali economy, and driven so many Somali fishermen into piracy. That does not promise well for other African countries.

And the US war on drugs has been a disaster for half a century. The only thing it has done for Africa is drive the Latin American smugglers into West Africa, creating a new nightmare.

The reporters in Takoradi asked about equipment that the Ghana Navy and police need for this fight. Money for that equipment should come from the:
AFRICAN COASTAL AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM (ACBS) – provides specialized equipment (such as patrol vessels and vehicles, communications equipment, night vision devices, and electronic monitors and sensors) to African countries to improve their ability to patrol and defend their own coastal waters and borders from terrorist operations, smuggling, and other illicit activities.
The ACBS was not funded in FY 2007 and 2008, and so far as I know funding for this program has not been restored since then. So all that the police and navy who need the equipment are going to get is more Big English. It is another indication that the help being promised is not intended to help Ghana.

Greed is the reason for the violence in the Congo. The violence is funded by the mining companies and all those, in many countries, who benefit from minerals and resource wealth extracted from the Congo. As a result of this violence, 1500 people die per day, 45000 die per month, 5.4 million have died in the last 10 years.

From the documentary Culture of Resistance two people who know the Congo tell us:

Maurice Carney -
The Congo is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II. Congo is a geological scandal because of the mineral wealth within its soil. The conflict is based on who is going to control the resources of the Congo.

Kambale Musavuli -
If one person is brutalized in front of everyone, by the time that ends, everyone in the area are going to take their baggage and leave the community.
They have been displaced.
That is the cheapest way to move the people. So there are two rapes taking place, the rape of the land and the rape of the people. And these two rapes are inextricably linked.

[The above added February 22, 2012]

The [Democratic Republic of the Congo's] significant mineral reserves coupled with corrupt management of the mining sector helped fuel the 1998-2003 civil war leading to the death of some 4 million people. Conflict and massive displacement continues in the eastern part of the country. (UN 2007)

Map of Coltan ore locations in the Eastern Congo, DRC (click to enlarge) -1-

What is Coltan?

Columbite-tantalite, coltan for short, is a dull metallic ore found in major quantities in the eastern areas of Congo. When refined, coltan becomes metallic tantalum, a heat-resistant powder that can hold a high electrical charge. These properties make it a vital element in creating capacitors, the electronic elements that control current flow inside miniature circuit boards. Tantalum capacitors are used in almost all cell phones, laptops, pagers and many other electronics. The profits from mining have fueled a brutal civil war and severely damaged the forest and wildlife.

Map of mineral deposits in the eastern Congo, the DRC (click to enlarge) -2-

For over a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. The greed for Congo’s wealth has been a principal driver of atrocities and conflict throughout Congo’s tortured history. In eastern Congo today, resources are financing multiple armed groups,many of whom use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and drive the local population away from mines and other areas that they wish to control.

Specifically, the conflict in eastern Congo – the deadliest since World War II – is fueled in significant part by a multi-million dollar trade in minerals. Armed groups generate an estimated $180 million each year by trading four main minerals: the ores that produce the metals tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. This money enables the armed groups to purchase large numbers of weapons and continue their campaign of brutal violence against civilians, with some of the worst abuses occurring in mining areas. These materials eventually wind up in electronic devices, such as cell phones, portable music players, and computers, including those sold here in the United States. Given the lack of a transparent minerals supply chain, American consumers continue to indirectly finance armed groups that regularly commit arocities and mass rape.
(Crisis in Congo PDF)

Map of sites of coltan and other mining exploitation in Kivu, Congo, the DRC (click to enlarge) -3-

You can see the geographical relationship between the mining, the mineral deposits, and the armed groups in these maps.

Map of four of the armed groups operating in the eastern Congo, Kivu North and South, the DRC, as of the end of 2007 (click to enlarge) -4-

The majority of the violence in the eastern Congo has been carried out in mineral-rich areas, by armed groups and military units on all sides of the conflict. This includes units of the Congolese armed forces, as well as the Rwandan rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, of FDLR, as well as an array of other militias.
(Crisis in Congo PDF)

These armed groups profit from the trade in two primary ways:

  • Controlling the mines, forcing miners to work in deadly conditions and paying them a pittance, an average of $1 to $5 per day.
  • Exacting bribes from transporters, local and international buyers, and border controls.

The armed groups trade in the 3T minerals – tin, tantalum, and tungsten, as well as gold:

Tin is used inside your cellphone and all electronic products as a solder on circuit boards. Fifty-three percent of tin worldwide is used as a solder, the vast majority of which goes into electronics. Armed groups earn approximately $115 million per year from trading in tin.

Tantalum (often called “coltan”) is used to store electricity in capacitors in iPods, digital cameras, and cll phones. A majority of the world’s tantalum – 65 to 80 percent – is used in elecronic products. Armed groups earn an estimated $12million per year from trading in tantalum.

Tungsten is used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate. Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo, with armed groups currently earning approximately $7 million annually.

Gold is used mainly in jewelry but is also a component in electronics. Extremely valuable and easy to smuggle, armed groups are earning approximately $50 million per year from gold.

Gold from Ituri, used in jewelry and electronic components (click to enlarge) -5-

For one comparison, the amount of gold that Uganda exports in relation to the amount of gold it produces, see the following chart* (click to enlarge):
chart comparing small amout of gold Uganda produces with the large amount it exports

Ethnic rivalries are often blamed for the violence in eastern Congo, but they are a tool rather than a cause. The main reason for the violence is:

greed, the primary cause of the so-called “second war,” which began in 1998. A number of “elite networks,” as defined by a hard-hitting U.N. report, comprising military commanders, political leaders, and unscrupulous entrepreneurs in Kigali, Kampala, and beyond, backed up by international mafias, plundered the resources of eastern Congo (coltan ore, diamonds, gold, hardwoods) and turned the region’s economy to their personal profit. To accomplish their aims, they had to resort continuously to force, but without betraying their true objectives. In the “second war,” Rwanda and Uganda masked their predatory intentions by clandestinely maintaining regular or irregular troops, and above all by fostering armed bands, organized along ethnic lines, forming and reforming according to the current needs of their masters. The battles among these bands have rarely led to major victories or defeats; the whole idea is to maintain insecurity and justify the militarization that enables the massive plundering. Amid all this, the local people have paid a terrible price.

According to the U.N. report, which was published nearly a year ago, the number of “excess deaths” in Congo directly attributable to the Rwandan and Ugandan occupation can be estimated at between 3 million and 3.5 million. This conflict has been the deadliest since World War II. … Finally, acts of sexual violence accompanying the carnage have been without precedent in their frequency, their systematic nature, their brutality, and the perversity of the way they’re planned and staged.

… In this hospital, the sexually assaulted victims are two or three times as numerous as civilians treated for gunshot wounds, and four or five times as numerous as wounded soldiers. These are very significant ratios concerning the victims of eastern Congo’s interrelated conflicts.

… in eastern Congo, rape—extremely violent rape—“is soldiers’ work,” one of the rapists told one of his victims.
from Congo: A Hell on Earth for Women

Out of this violence, looted minerals are transported both by land, air, and water.

Map of mineral transportation routes out of the Congo, DRC (click to enlarge) -6

Air routes of minerals taken from the Eastern Congo, the DRC (click to enlarge) -7-

From the eastern Congo the minerals are:
(Crisis in Congo PDF)

  • Transported through neighboring countries including Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.
  • Mainly shipped to East Asia, particularly to multinational smelting companies in Malaysia, Thailand, China, and India.
  • Once processed, bought by electronics manufacturing companies, turned into usable components such as capacitors, and added into the electronic devices.

The highest-selling devices with the 3T minerals are:
Cell phones and Blackberries * MP3 players * Digital cameras (also, TVs, computers, monitors)

Countries importing gold and 3T mineral ore from the Congo -8-

Crisis in Congo PDF cites the average annual wage of a civilian worker in the Congo as about $184 per year. It estimates the profits of the armed groups that trade in the Congo’s contraband minerals at $180,000,000 per year.

Rwanda and Uganda benefit most directly from the trade in contraband minerals from Congo. I have written about this previously in posts listed below. According to Crisis in Congo PDF, since January 2009 more that 900,000 people have had to flee their homes because of the violence. 7000 rapes have been reported, most rapes are not reported. Armed groups try to drive out local citizens and other armed groups. There are only 2 hospitals in all of eastern Congo that are able to perform surgury on fistula, a common result of the rapes. These rapes seem to fit the definition of genocidal rape, including:

… in genocide, rape is under control. It has become a tool, not an accident. In genocide, men rape in groups because they are ordered to or because they are systematically permitted to do so. It is calculated. The men rape not as individual men, but as members of their race, ethnicity, religion or nationality. They sexually assault women (and sometimes other men) of a particular group.

The goal in genocidal rape is not merely to hurt people. Much less is the goal simply to have sex. Group destruction is the goal. Sexual violence is not simply some ancillary tool to this goal. Indeed, because of the peculiar nature of rape and sexual torture, it is particularly suited to genocide. In war, the destructive effects of rape are largely beside the point. In genocide, the destruction is the point.

I am wary of the word genocide. I think in recent times it has been appropriated for political reasons, and thereby robbed of some meaning. What is happening to ordinary people living in the Eastern Congo is devastatingly painful to read about or contemplate, and I find it difficult to research or write about. Too much of it is happening because you and I enjoy our cellphones and other electronics.

For more detail on the violence against women there are quite a number of links on this page: women in conflict. It includes a video, and this article, Silence=Rape, which is hard to read but describes the problem. US demand for electronics helps fuel the problem. And the US isn’t helping, for example:
Congo’s Rape Epidemic Worsens During U.S.-Backed Military Operation
U.S. Civil Military Imbalance for Global Engagement: Lessons from the Operational Level in Africa

The training and weapons support the US provides to both Rwanda and Uganda, both active partners of the US Africa Command, is just more fuel for the violence in the Congo. This is even more questionable policy due to the profits and benefits US companies and consumers derive from the contraband minerals of the Congo.

________
Maps from:
L’économie minière au Kivu et ses implications régionales, PDF [Maps 1,6]
*Etude sur le rôle de l’exploitation des ressources naturelles dans l’alimentation et la perpétuation des crises de l’est de la RDC, PDF [Maps 2,3,4,5,7,8] see the Abstract
Both documents contain a great deal more information and more maps.
Check out a great powerpoint overview of coltan and the coltan trade with maps and photos PowerPoint by Dr. John Katunga of the Wilson Center.

________
Previous posts with related information and more links:
Paul Kagame, Warlord of Congo’s Wealth
DRC – Minerals, militaries, money and violence – part 2
DRC – Minerals, militaries, money and violence
Women in Rwanda and DRC – development vs military assistance
If Uganda Has Oil It Must Need The Pentagon’s Democracy

Canada funding and profiting from Congo’s wars
And more in this category:
http://crossedcrocodiles.wordpress.com/category/congo/

one of the most destructive wars in modern history has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s third-largest country. During the past eleven years millions of people have died, while armies from as many as nine different African countries fought with Congolese government forces and various rebel groups for control of land and natural resources.

Few realize that a main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda. (New York Review of Books)

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda addresses the UN (UN Photo/Mark Castro)

… some of Kagame’s greatest admirers are Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz. American evangelist Rick Warren considers him something of an inspiration and even Bill Gates has invested in what has been called Africa’s success story. Yes, Western liberals, reactionary evangelicals, and capitalist carpetbaggers alike tout Paul Kagame as the herald of a new, self-reliant African prosperity. (Pulse)

Africa’s World War is the most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Along with René Lemarchand’s The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa and Thomas Turner’s The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Prunier’s Africa’s World War explores arguments that have circulated among scholars of sub-Saharan Africa for years. … In all three, the Kagame regime, and its allies in Central Africa, are portrayed not as heroes but rather as opportunists who use moral arguments to advance economic interests. And their supporters in the United States and Western Europe emerge as alternately complicit, gullible, or simply confused. For their part in bringing intractable conflict to a region that had known very little armed violence for nearly thirty years, all the parties—so these books argue—deserve blame, including the United States. (NYRB)

These books:

depict the forces of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front as steely, power-driven killers themselves.

Prunier calls the Kagame regime’s use of violence in that period “something that resembles neither the genocide nor uncontrolled revenge killings, but rather a policy of political control through terror.”

And it is that terrorism that continues in the Eastern Congo, ethnic cleansing, really political terrorism to move people out of the way of those acquiring the minerals. That is the reason for the murders and mutilations of Congo’s people, all genders, all ages and all ethnicities, and the overwhelming rapes and mutilations of women and children. These are political terror to move people out of the way of the mining interests. The US Africa Command is helping train and arm the Rwandan RDF. Keep in mind, as the quote above states, the: main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda.

KIGALI, Rwanda - General William E. "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (left of center), claps along to the spirited singing of Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) soldiers celebrating the conclusion of a live-fire demonstration at the RDF's Gabiro School of Infantry in Gabiro, Rwanda, April 21, 2009. The demonstration was part of a tour for a U.S. Africa Command delegation led by General William E. "Kip" Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command. The Gabiro School is the RDF's primary facility for infantry, armor, artillery and engineering training of RDF officers and enlisted members. (U.S. Africa Command Photo by Kenneth Fidler)

Most alarming is the integral role that Kigali has played in the Second Congolese War which has claimed upward of three million lives. The Rwandan government has been lending significant support to rebels within the Congo, especially in the mineral-rich north. There, the objective is widely considered to be securing the valuable resources of the region which have been trafficked through Rwanda during the conflict. While some press attention has been given to the horrendous plight of women in the area and the massive and mounting casualty figures, little connection seems to be drawn between Kagame and his complicit fans in Europe and North America.

Even The Economist took exception with his heavy-handed domestic policies and accused the new hero of Clinton and Blair as being more repressive than Robert Mugabe. (Pulse)

From the Financial Times:

It is likely that your mobile phone contains coltan mined in Congo’s east, the crucible of the conflict. It is unlikely this was exported by legitimate means. Only a fraction of revenues from the country’s prolific mineral exports are captured by the state.

Here is a map of the routes of coltan and other looted minerals out of the eastern Congo through Rwanda and Uganda to the Indian Ocean ports:

Map of routes of looted coltan and minerals (from INICA, click to enlarge)

________

Added 2/26 – There is much more information at this page:
The Real Authors of the Congo Crimes. Nkunda has been arrested but who will arrest Paul Kagame ?

________

Minerals supply chain from Raise hope for the Congo PDF, http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/files/pdf/crisis_in_congo.pdf

________

Pulse has an excellent bibliography, reproduced below:

(1) “Rwanda Rising: A New Model of Economic Development.” Fast Company, Wednesday, March 18, 2009. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/134/special-report-rwanda-rising.html
(2) This comes on the heels of reports that Rick Warren and his reactionary cohorts where involved with neighboring Uganda’s efforts to execute homosexuals. http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/11/rick-warren-silent-enabler-of-hatred.html
(3) This BBC report is from the end of the election when Twagiramungu called on Kagame to “accept freedom of speech and association and also to accept democracy.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3104092.stm
(4) Reporters Without Borders profile of Paul Kagame (http://www.rsf.org/en-predateur13640-Paul_Kagame_.html) and also a brief report on the issue of fees for free press (http://www.rsf.org/Government-to-demand-exorbitant.html).
(5) “A Flawed Hero”, The Economist, August 21, 2008
(6) The New York Review of Books printed an extensive article on the matter by Howard W. French in their September 24, 2009 issue (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23054). The UN has also issued annual reports on the Second Congo War every year which allude to the influence Kagame has played in the conflict.
(7) “Looted Wealth Fuels Congo Conflict”, Financial Times, November 30, 2009. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8ae76ab0-dde6-11de-b8e2-00144feabdc0.html

Ghana’s capacity to generate energy for industrial, commercial and domestic use is in serious crisis because of the failure of mining companies, industries, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to pay the huge sums of money they owe the Volta River Authority (VRA).

Akosombo Dam of the Volta River Authority, the VRA generates and supplies electrical energy for industrial, commercial and domestic use in Ghana (click to enlarge).

Figures available to the Daily Graphic put the current debt owed by MDAs to the VRA at GH¢90 million, while some mining companies also owe the authority more than GH¢15 million.

Energy crisis looms as VRA crawls on dwindling income was reported in Reporting Oil and Gas.

Furthermore, the VRA claims that it is compelled to sell power cheaper than the production cost, as a result of which what it obtains from loyal customers who pay their bills regularly is not enough to sustain its operations, a situation that has plunged the authority into a critical financial situation.

As the big consumers and government agencies appear reluctant to meet their debt obliga-tions, the VRA is pushing for higher tariffs to enable it raise the needed revenue for the sustenance of its operations.

Alternatively, it says it will require extra funding from the government for the sustenance of its operations and to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

The government can pay its bills one way, or pay them another. Preferably the MDAs, ministries, departments, and agencies will pay their own bills, and itemize them in their budgets. Or the government can pay them in some other way, with subsidies or some other arrangement that must be clearly defined. But they must pay, and must be realistic about what they are paying and the VRA’s income and expenses. And the process should be transparent and visible to the public, who is paying, and who is not paying.

The mining companies have been brutal to people living in mining areas, displacing people, poisoning and destroying the environment. They most certainly should pay their bills. That is the least they can do for the country.

The Head of Public Relations at the VRA, Mrs Gertrude Koomson, put VRA’s loss at 50 per cent of its production cost and listed inflation and increases in crude oil prices as other factors contributing to the huge losses.

“As things stand at the moment, there is no way the authority can continue to effectively serve the nation, since its revenues are not covering the cost of production,” she added.

Mrs Koomson said the VRA believed that the time had come for the public to start paying the right price for electricity and went further to state that the authority had presented a proposal to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURC) and was awaiting its response.

She observed that if the right price was not paid today to meet the cost of production, consumers might be compelled to pay much higher prices in future that is, if the system did not collapse completely.

I wonder exactly what Mrs. Koomson means by people paying the right price. Does she mean that the businesses and MDAs that have failed to pay should pay up their share? It sounds like the system is currently being sustained by the small rate payers while the big players are skating along free. Is she talking about charging the smaller rate payers more because the big guys don’t pay? If so, that has to change.

All those using power produced by the VRA need to pay their fair share. It is especially important for businesses and government agencies to show leadership and support, for the sake of both solvency and fairness. To do otherwise is a shift of wealth upwards from the poorer to the richer. It is also a shift from being functional to being dysfunctional, a path to certain failure. It is a bad way to do business, as well as being unethical and undemocratic.

It should be possible to bring some legal pressure to bear on the big players to pay their bills. In this regard Ghana may be suffering from the structural adjustments forced down its throat by the IMF and World Bank. Structural adjustments force governments to dismantle those parts of government that are particularly necessary for serving the general population, for building up a country, for creating jobs, creating a middle class, and achieving real independence. They are designed to leave a country at the mercy of predatory capitalism. World Bank and IMF aid and adjustments are designed to cripple a country’s ability to govern itself. For examples, you can look at the government and economy of almost every country they have “helped”. Ghana has certainly suffered its share.

________

Akosombo Dam photo from marantzer on Flickr.

The International Institute for ICT Journalism created a blog for following news of oil finds, oil wealth, and the oil industry in Ghana:
Reporting Oil and Gas


FPSO, Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel for the Jubilee Field and sub sea FPSO production facilities diagram from a presentation at Kosmos Energy

For awhile there was not much published, but in the last couple of months there have been new stories posted almost daily, sometimes several times per day. Many of these stories are taken from various media in Ghana. That makes Reporting Oil and Gas a very useful tool for collecting and following the stories on oil development in Ghana. At the end of each story the blog provides the link to the original source. This news blog is still in its early stages, but I hope it continues and expands. It is quite useful and much needed.

On February 1 it reported that Ghana is considering setting up a sovereign wealth fund for oil revenues.
Ghana Eyes Sovereign Wealth Find For Oil Morey -Minister

Ghana is considering setting up a sovereign wealth fund to channel surplus revenues from oil production, which are due to start rolling later this year, Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor has said.

“We have held a couple of meetings already it’s something we’ re seriously working towards and we hope to put the proposals before Cabinet in about a month,” Dr. Duffuor said in an interview with Reuters.

He said if Cabinet backs the proposals, a bill will then be drafted for consideration by parliament, Duffuor said.

The Finance Minister gave no details of the size of the possible fund. But a Ghanaian government source close to discussions on the matter said it will be largely shaped by the size of oil revenues.

The source noted that it was not certain that the fund would be given the green light, noting an alternative option-investing in key domestic infrastructure project was also under discussion.

Ghana is the latest Africa state, alongside Nigeria, Angola and Tunisia to study ways to ring fence energy windfalls for future generations.

Ghana, the world’s number two cocoa producer and Africa’s second –biggest gold miner after South Africa expects to starts oil production late this year when its offshore Jubilee energy field starts operation.

And Is “Oil Fund” all Ghana needs to defeat the Resource Curse? by Stephen Yeboah from the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

The case for the economic and political significance of oil funds remains very bleak. It is now argued by some economists that oil funds are no more effective than other measures for mitigating the threats of Dutch Disease.

… the country needs accountability, openness and transparency to defeat the resource. And what makes these three pillars meaningful in any democratic dispensation? Ghana ought to rejuvenate its institutions and governance structures to solve the paradox of plenty.

Most importantly, regulatory and legal framework in the oil and gas sector and in managing the oil fund should be made operational. Would Ghana have the capacity to enforce the laws that would govern the oil industry?

The statement by the Deputy Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, that the Ministry of Energy would oversee the disbursement of funds in the “Oil and Gas Business Development and Local Content Fund” leaves much to be desired. Here, it is definitely the adherence to the political disincentives in the country where virtually the executive wields leverage even over parliament. This situation would allow public spending for personal gains. Ideally, the role to oversee and monitor the disbursement of funds should solely be assigned to an independent oversight body and parliament respectively. Parliament should exercise the authority of debating, approving and scrutinizing petroleum agreements, government transactions in and out of the oil fund.

Concerning the role of civil society organizations, there is a seemingly brighter step since Ghana is blessed with vibrant groups that are always in place to have a say in government decisions. But in the context of the oil sector, are civil society groups empowered enough to meet the difficult challenges ahead? It is worthy of note that an oil fund with small number of actors operating in nontransparent and poorly linked manner would encourage misappropriation and abuse of power. The outcome of the issue here is that limited roles of CSOs mean that the tool for ensuring transparency and openness in the oil sector is made ineffective. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is the best medium that can enjoin the role many actors, from government representative to civil society organizations.

Again, what is always significant is for the ordinary Ghanaian to be educated and made informed of what goes on in the oil and gas sector. This is to clamp down on possible uncontrolled grievances that may cause revolts.

The latest stories as of today are dated February 4th.
World Bank gives Ghana $30m for capacity building for oil and gas industry

The World Bank in a programme is giving the country an amount of $30 million for training to build capacity for the industry.

Diwan said the Bank was embarking on an “ambitious programme to train Ghanaians in the universities, financial institutions, for taxation and management” to prepare the country to be in a position to manage the oil resources.

This development has given hope to many observers who believe that the discussions are an opportunity to lead the country to develop a sound plan on how to manage the oil and to avoid the problems that many oil-rich African countries are going through presently.

I doubt any plan of the World Bank will help avoid the oil curse. The pattern of the World Bank and the IMF is to tear down any responsible government institutions with structural adjustment programs, leaving countries at the mercy of predatory global capitalism, without any institutional defense system. This is largely the point of structural adjustment programs. Ghana has already suffered and continues to suffer from loss of personel in the public sector due to structural adjustments, preventing the government from carrying out its responsibilities to the people of Ghana.

Reporting Oil and Gas is very simple in design and only puts two or three stories on a page. This is smart design, as it makes it much more useful in Ghana where there are not so many high speed connections to the internet. And Ghana is where this information is really needed.

The other story on the front page today is Investment conference in Ghana in March

International Business Event Management Ghana Limited, in collaboration with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and other stakeholders, is to host a multi-sectoral conference in March, this year, for potential investors to the Ghanaian business terrain.

The conference, dubbed: “Investing and Growing Your Business in Ghana- Challenges and Opportunities (IGB-Ghana 2010), follows the launch of the International Business Event Management Ghana Limited (IBEM-Gh. Ltd) on January 13, this year, in Lagos

“IGB Ghana 2010 conference will not only present a unique business networking opportunity for participants but would also provide the opportunity to meet and deliberate with service providers, government regulators, development partners, law firms, government agencies, ministries, Ghana Chamber of commerce and financial institutions,” he stated.

Mr. Ampah said:” the conference is bringing together manufacturers from Africa, Europe, Asia, and thee United States, adding that regional and multi-national corporate bodies, gas companies, embassies, banks and financial institutions as well as private sector operators would participate in the conference.”

Shedding some light on the launching event in Lagos, Mr. Ampah said many investors expressed their interest in investing in Ghana but expressed the need for regular power supply to avoid disruptions in their operations.

Irregular power supply is a huge handicap to businesses in Ghana, and to doing business in Ghana. It can make many activities and transactions impossible. It would be nice to see some progress to solving the problem.

There is one thing I hope Reporting Oil and Gas adds to their stories, and that is the name of the original author, if it is available. They do link to the original story, so it is possible to find who wrote a story if the author is named, but it would be nice to bring that information into the stories at Reporting Oil and Gas. Nevertheless Reporting Oil and Gas performs a valuable service well, and I recommend it to your attention.

________

Added February 10:

Subsea Equipment Ready For Oil Production

The subsea equipment required for the production of oil from the Jubilee Oil Fields off the coast of Ghana in the Western region, have begun arriving in the country.

A statement issued in Accra and signed by the Communications Manager of Tullow Ghana Limited, Mr. Gayheart Mensah, said, “this is a strong indication that the operator of the Jubilee Field, Tullow Ghana Limited, is ready to produce first oil from the Jubilee Field by the last quarter of this year.”

An equipment known as “The Christmas Tree,” which is an assembly of control valves, gauges, pipes, chokes and fittings and which is installed on the ocean floor, is used to control oil and gas flow from a completed well.

The statement said that the Sekondi Naval Base and the Takoradi Port have been the main entry points for the equipment, adding that before the vessels carrying the equipment set sail for Ghana, a team from Tullow Ghana Limited visited some of the companies contracted by the Jubilee Partners to manufacture subsea structures for the project.

According to the statement, the oil discovery in the Jubilee Oil Fields has come with “expectations among Ghanaians that the oil find should transform Ghana’s economy and spin off jobs immediately. These are huge expectations that need to be managed.”

The statement is confident, “with the level of technology deployed by Tullow Ghana Limited, the operator of the Jubilee Oil Fields and the quality of personnel working on the project, the target date of producing first oil by the last quarter of this year will be met.”

Marriage has made my life richer, more interesting and more fun than I ever expected. We’ve had our share of wartimes as well as peacetimes. Among our pleasures, we both like to watch nature films, sometimes applying what we see as ad hoc metaphors to our own lives and to current events. And we both enjoy dueling with metaphors.

To the love of my life, I hope I may enjoy at least 30 more years in the luxury of your company.

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