Ghana


Overview of Ghana’s 2012 Presidential Election

 

On Friday Ghana will hold its Presidential Election.  Ghana presidential elections are on the same 4 year cycle as the United States, though the election is in December rather than November.  Presidents are limited to two terms, same as the United States.  This is the sixth presidential election since the end of military government.  Twice an incumbent loosing party has peacefully turned over power to the incoming winners of the election.  

The most respected pollster in Ghana, Ben Ephson, predicts that John Dramani Mahama of the NDC will win on the first round of balloting, and that the NDC will maintain a majority in parliament.

Below is a sample presidential ballot for this election. 

Sample ballot for Ghana’s 2012 Presidential election

You can find more information about each of the candidates at Ghana Decides. Click on the picture of a candidate and you’ll more information about that candidate. And you can follow news and commentary from Ghana Politics from GhanaWeb

There are a number of active political parties fielding presidential candidates, the main contest is between the NPP and the NDC. The NPP’s strongest area of support is in the Ashanti region, and the NPP candidate is Nana Akufo-Addo. The NDC’s strongest support comes from the Volta Region, although its presidential candidate, John Mahama, is originally from the Northern region. There is more information on Ghana’s regions here.

ghanaregions

Both parties have supporters throughout Ghana. Below you see totebags with the symbols of these two largest parties.

NDC and NPP tote bags for the 2012 Ghana Presidential Election

Savvy and enthusiastic young internet users in Ghana have carried on an active get out the vote effort on Facebook, BloggingGhana, BloGh, on Twitter #GhanaDecides, and Ghana Decides on Youtube. AlJazeera featured this internet presence in an article Turning Likes Into Votes.

A candidate they call “The Facebook president,” another who trended worldwide on Twitter, and a third who is speaking directly to voters via Google hangout. With only 10% internet penetration in a country with more than 14 million registered voters, what role will social media play in Ghana’s upcoming presidential election? And will online support for the candidates translate into offline votes?

In the days and months leading up to Ghana’s December 7 elections, candidates and civic organisations are using social media-savvy techniques to engage the Ghanaian electorate to get out the vote.

From #GhanaDedides comes word map of keywords used by the candidates, about the issues, and in news stories about the election.

2012 Ghana election keyword map

2012 Ghana election keyword map

Ghana has begun using biometric identification for voting. I have serious reservations about this, but will watch to see how it works. My question is who has access to this information, and who will gain access over time. We know the US government wants to collect biometric information on African political figures and activists based on the Wikileaks cables. We know the Pentagon is expanding its spy network in Africa.

 

Some electoral backstory

 

In 1992 Jerry John Rawlings ended his tenure as military leader of Ghana and was elected president. He was the flagbearer of the NDC party, which he founded. He won reelection in 1996, serving 8 years, which is the Ghana Constitutional limit, just like in the US. In 2000 he peacefully turned over power to the NPP and newly elected President Kufuor. Rawlings remains very popular but has bitter enemies as well, whose enmity he has earned. In 2000 his Vice President, John Evans Atta-Mills ran as the NDC candidate against John Kufuor, the NPP candidate. Many people thought it was time for a change, that the NDC had been running things long enough. Kufuor is a very likable guy, and he and the NPP won the 2000 election and were reelected in 2004.

Unfortunately the NPP leadership chose to work on enriching themselves rather than the country. Corruption has always been a problem, but Kufuor and the NPP leadership institutionalized corruption to new levels. They sold off Ghana’s assets and land to themselves and to foreign interests, and pocketed the profits. Money for public projects disappeared with nothing to show for it. Kufuor spent much of his terms in office traveling at taxpayer expense. In 2007 it was officially announced that significant deposits of offshore oil would be coming into production for Ghana from the Jubilee field. Kufuor arranged with Barclays Bank to set up Ghana with tax haven offshore banking.

In my observation, the NPP is very similar to the Republican party in the US. It is a party that wants to reward and advantage existing elites. Many of its leaders come from the families of people who were elites before colonialism, and enjoyed privileged status during the years of colonialism. Many of them opposed independence and then opposed the projects that would help Ghana become economically independent, such as the building of the Akosombo dam and Tema harbor. I think if the NPP had been able to dial down the corruption a bit, and produce a bit more, it would have stayed in power. The battle for votes and battles over counting the votes were fierce in the 2008 election, which went to three rounds. John Atta-Mills finally won the 2008 election. It was decided by one constituency, Tain, in the Brong-Ahafo region. Rawlings campaigned energetically for Mills. Rawlings had helped some to build up the area, but it had been mostly ignored during the tenure of the NPP. Roads were neglected and farmers could not get their cocoa to market to sell.

John Atta-Mills was distinguished by his rare degree of wisdom and honesty. That was not necessarily the case with the people around him. He was good natured and people worried he might not be a strong enough leader, though he could be tough. Rawlings wanted to continue running things through Mills and Mills quietly did not let him. Rawlings frequently railed against Mills from the sidelines throughout the 4 year term. Mills also successfully resisted the persuasions of US AFRICOM to send Ghanaian soldiers into Ivory Coast as US proxies in January 2011.

In July 2012 President Mills died suddenly and unexpectedly, though he was known to have health problems. In another democratic triumph, Ghana moved smoothly and quickly to swear in Vice President Mahama as President, following prescribed Constitutional procedures and without incident. At the time he died Mills was a very popular figure and the entire country mourned his passing. Mahama then became the NDC nominee for President and has shown himself to be knowledgeable and able.

In the NPP, Akufo-Addo, who was Kufuor’s Vice President, and who had run for President in 2008 was nominated again. In 2011 in a speech in Koforidua, speaking about his intentions for the election, in a voice shaking with intensity he said three times “all die be die”, meaning that violence is entirely acceptable if needed to win, deaths are an acceptable price for electoral victory. Akufo-Addo has shown himself prone to violence before, as when his bodyguards beat and killed fellow NPP member Seth Michael Ahyiah. Akufo-Addo has tried to weasle out of the meaning of all die be die, but has never withdrawn the words. Many are afraid he will stir up violence if he does not win. Soon thereafter the wild talking NPP member of parliament, Kennedy Agyepong saidif we do not win, Ghana will become like Rwandaand

… he has declared war on all Ewes living in the Ashanti region, and that the NPP activists in the region should attack Ewes with machetes and cutlasses. He warned that any security personnel who will try to keep the peace in the region will be lynched.

This did get Kennedy Agyepong in trouble with the law, as it should. And there are more recent reports of danger: Akufo-Addo’s all-die-be-die militants unmasked. NPP supporters are not the only source of danger and potential violence, but with “all die be die” they have been the most overt.

Most of the politicians and parties are urging peaceful behavior during the election, and that is a major message of the online electioneering. There is a strong push for peace and respect for the law from all parties.

I have dealt mainly with the political history and maneuvering here, without sufficient attention to the issues. For an understanding of the issues, you might do best listening to the IEA, Institute of Economic Affairs debates, which are on YouTube: IEA Debate in Tamale (30-10-12) [Full], and the edited IEA Final Presidential Debate (21-11-12). Overall my impression was that John Mahama was by far the most knowledgeable with the most breadth and depth of understanding. The most visionary platform (pdf) as I see it comes from the GCPP whose candidate is Henry Lartey, who wants to build a new solar energy based economy. I know little about him or the party, though his father was highly respected.

As mentioned above, you can find more information about each of the candidates at Ghana Decides Click on the picture of a candidate and you’ll find more information about that candidate. Wikipedia has articles on Ghana’s main political parties and candidates. And you can follow election news and commentary from GhanaWeb Ghana Elections 2012

 
 

Update December 9, 2012

John Mahama wins.
Dr. Afari-Gyan, head of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, reports all the votes have been counted and all constituencies have reported. 79.43% of Ghanaian voters turned out to vote.
John Mahama is President Elect with 50.70% of the vote.
Nana Akufo-Addo received 47.74%.

At the end of November 2011 there were panicky headlines saying Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields. This was not the first time. The claim had been published much earlier in the year and on examination it appeared more alarmist than serious at that time.

Map of Dzata oil field off Cape Three Points Ghana and Ghana offshore oil.

The more recent November reports in the newspapers were based on actions and claims made by Ivory Coast at the 18th Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town between Nov. 2-4, and reported in Africa Energy Intelligence #663 in November. Africa Energy Intelligence requires a subscription. The report was repeated in Connectionivoirienne.net.

What follows is a google translation that includes the information from Africa Energy Intelligence N°663:

The oil war between Ghana and the Ivory Coast will she be?
Posted by The Editor · Connectionivoirienne.net
November 10, 2011 at 22:30

Tension mounts for the control of the offshore -

Read for yourself in the Intelligent d’Abidjan -

The 18th edition of the Africa Oil Week in Cape Town (from 2 to 4 November was an opportunity for the director of oil from Ivory Coast, Ibrahim Diaby, and the CEO of Petroc, Daniel Gnangni to present the new map of oil blocks in the country. A notable change has been introduced: five new licenses, ranging from CI 540 to 544, were drawn to the east of the Ivorian waters. These boundaries are superimposed on several blocks in Ghana, including Deepwater Tano, where Tullow Oil has made significant discoveries in 2008 and 2009, with Tweneboa and Enyenra. These two fields are already in a phase of development. Ghanaian ministers, including that of justice, march in Abidjan since September to try to clear the record. A document from the Ministry of Petroleum and Petroc was sent in early October to fourteen opéraeurs in territorial waters and the main Ivorian embassy to explain the position of the country. Requested by Africa Energy Intelligence, executives Ivorian Ministry of Energy indicate that for several decades, Côte d’Ivoire Ghana tries to associate the delimitation of the maritime boundary, but no agreement has never been reached. In Abidjan, Accra took advantage of the political crisis that has prevailed in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002 to allocate blocks in the disputed area of ​​the offshore, particularly in Tullow. After trying to open talks, the president Alassane Ouattara now wants to force his neighbor to negotiate as soon as possible, that is to say, before Tweneboa and Enyenra come into production. Source: Africa Energy Intelligence

In the reports that came out the beginning of March, the oil companies dismissed the Ivory Coast claims.

Dzata 1 oil well is within Ghana’s boundary – Vanco Oil


The Chief Operating Officer of Vanco Limited, J.L Mitchell, operators of the Dzata- 1 Well, located offshore Ghana, in the Tano basin of the Cape three points Deep Water Block, has told Citi News that their block is well within the maritime boundaries of Ghana.

According to him, Vanco has no concern at all over reports that neighboring Ivory Coast is making claims for some parts of Ghana’s maritime Boundary.

… the Dzata Well is over 200 kilometers away from Ghana’s maritime boundary with cote-d’Ivoire.

“It’s very far; 200 kilometres away from the maritime boundaries and it doesn’t affect us one way or the other…It is well within the Ghanaian maritime boundary,” he said.

Jubilee field is the closest oil field to the Ivoirian border, and it is still 60 miles east of that border.

My conclusion then was that if the oil companies were not worried, there was no reason to worry. They would have determined these issues for themselves, to secure their investment before drilling.

More recently, in November it sounded as if the oil companies might be saying something different.

Ivory Coast Claims Ghana’s Oil Fields November 30 2011


Texas-based oil explorer, Kosmos Energy has expressed fears about the development. The oil producer says the future of a portion of its license in the Deepwater Tano Block is uncertain as the issue remains unresolved. Kosmos fears that if changes are made to the maritime boundary demarcation between Ghana and Ivory Coast, it may lose some of its license. It has 18% stake in the Deepwater Tano block in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Dzata-1 well and the Deepwater Tano fall within the same boundary. Currently Ghana is the rightful owner of the area, but Ivory Coast has petitioned the United Nations to demarcate the Ivorian territorial maritime boundary with Ghana. Even though the two countries met in April 2010 for negotiations on the matter, Kosmos says the results of the meeting were not announced and the issue remains unresolved at present.

“Uncertainty remains with regard to the outcome of the boundary demarcation between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and we do not know if the maritime boundary will change, therefore affecting our rights to explore and develop our discoveries or prospects within such areas”, the Warburg Pincus and Blackstone Group (BX) backed company said in a filing form to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on April 25, 2011.

I wondered if the oil companies were leaning on Ghana in order to extract more profit. And I wondered if the US government might be behind that as well. As the wikileaks have shown us, most US diplomacy seeks to advantage US corporations. I was also certain Sarkozy was supporting Ouattara’s attempts to claim Ghana’s oil.

Sarkozy and Ouattara puppet

In looking for more news of the oil and border issue I found nothing new. So I checked the financial news associated with the oil companies going back through 2011, Tullow and Kosmos.

Barclays upgraded Kosmos in December 2011.
Ghana Jubilee oilfield partners buy FPSO vessel in January 2012.
Tullow aims for 120,000 bpd from Ghana early 2012 in December 2011.
These were the recent financial stories concerning Ghana, no worries here about boundary disputes with Ivory Coast. If the border dispute was a threat to the companies, it would show up in the financial news. The fact that there is no mention of the border issue leads me to think it is mostly a non-issue. At this point I believe Ouattara would like to stir up trouble in Ghana for President Mills (Ouattara holds a grudge for his perception of post election events) and both he and Sarkozy are greedy for oil. But Ghana does not really have much to worry about on this score. There is not that much to dispute about the border that will cause any problems with oil companies and oil licenses, though the border agreements do need to be finalized.

oil

The petition below has my heartfelt support. EPAs have nearly destroyed Ghana’s poultry industry (and a great many more economic sectors) and severely damaged our family farming efforts. The EU dumps frozen chicken parts on Ghana and West Africa that are subsidized to sell below what it costs to produce them. Frozen chicken parts are not as tasty or as healthy as locally grown chicken, but they are cheaper, and the Ghana poultry farmers can’t compete. Only a few times a year, generally on holidays when people want something really good, will they splurge and buy chickens grown locally.

As it says in the petition below:

The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs.
we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation … has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

As another press release from Third World Network Africa points out:

The other change [since 2002] is in the shifting centre of gravity of the global economy from regions like Europe to East Asia. Our contention is that the IEPA must be abandoned. It is a threat to the re-positioning of the national economy and to regional integration in ECOWAS.

The full text of the petition is below the graphic. The distinguished groups who sponsor and sign it are listed at the end, all members of the EJN, Economic Justice Network of Ghana.

Handshake wrapped in money, who gets the money?

PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Written by members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)
Monday, 28 November 2011 14:29

GHANA CANNOT RIDE TWO HORSES – PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EU) WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON 28TH NOVEMBER 2011

1.0 Preamble

As Ghana hosts the ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee Meeting (MMC) from the 28 -30th November 2011, the preservation of the coherence of our Economic Community and the future of West Africa’s Regional Integration hangs in the balance. The so-called Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) West Africa is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU) has already caused costly divisions in ECOWAS.

The EPA has created at least 3 contradictory trade regimes in a region that is supposed to have a single unified trade regime. LDCs in West Africa currently trade with the EU under the non-reciprocal Everything But Arms regime; as a non-LDC, Nigeria trades under what is known under the EU GSP; and Cote d’Ivoire has a bilateral EPA with the EU under which it is exempt on a small range of taxes imposed on Nigerian exports to the EU, BUT in exchange for exempting 81% of all imports from EU into Cote d’Ivoire from any tariff whatsoever.

The EU is our biggest trading partner and impacts our economies for better or for worse. Goods coming into West Africa from the EU will come in at 3 different tariff regimes and costs. What then will happen to the flow of these goods from each of these three sets of countries into each other as well as all other goods trade that exists between them? It is not difficult to imagine the trade bans, blockades and wars that will escalate within the region. This is the state of affairs that exists in West Africa as the MMC convenes in Accra today. The implications for ECOWAS are simply staggering.

But in can get much worse. In addition to these three trade regimes Ghana is on the brink of finalising and making PERMANENT its own INTERIM EPA which it undertook as a temporary measure three years ago. The Ghana IEPA has only slightly better terms in the scope of free entry it allows imports from Europe. Thus, Ghana will join Cote d’Ivoire in offering EU imports the most liberal, widest and therefore potentially most damaging market access. Meanwhile Ghana’s terms are not identical to that offered by Cote d’Ivoire. In effect, the Government of Ghana would have created a FOURTH trade regime in West Africa. How can anyone seriously claim that this is and will remain in the national interest of Ghana? If taken any further, Ghana’s unilateral stance will be a disaster for herself and for the region she is permanently tied to!

However this need not happen if Ghana and sister West African governments show vision and leadership and put the defence of ECOWAS’ integrity today and its progressive development tomorrow as the central common priority and shared destiny.

The current MMC which gets underway in Accra this morning and the outcomes it produces will accelerate ECOWAS fracture or consolidate and enhance its future.

2.0 Issues in the EPA and Our Position:

1. The threats by Ghana Government to sign and ratify the interim EPA initialed in 2007 will destroy efforts over the years to integrate as one region. Ghana’s Interim EPAs eliminates tariffs on above 80% of EU trade goods but the collective ECOWAS EPA is currently offering much less than that. ECOWAS is now considering 70% offer, we think this is already too high and too dangerous for our economies! But the EU still rejects the (excessive) 70% offer. The EU is intransigent to the ECOWAS position because once it has the 80%-plus benchmark from Ghana (and Cote d’Ivoire) it knows West Africa’s common stance has been greatly weakened. The EU’s ruthlessness, divisive and bullying stance in the EPAs has been officially acknowledged and condemned by African governments, including Ghana. But the example and fact of Ghana’s IEPA gives the EU clear evidence and encourages its confidence that if it remains just as ruthless for long enough other West African governments will crack. Today, it is Ghana’s position that is in the balance. The Ghana IEPA is a Trojan horse. We demand the Ghana IEPA be suspended immediately and Government commits fully and unconditionally to the collective ECOWAS EPA process, including the immediate issue of the collective position on the scope of Market Access.

2. ECOWAS must take a collective stance which, among others, compensates non-LDC members like Ghana for the costs in extra tariffs that their exports to the EU market will attract if they abandon the IEPA. Credible estimates indicate that the three non-LDCs in West Africa will incur additional tariffs on their exports into EU of about €132million if they trade without an EPA. Ghana’s direct share of these losses will be about €37 million euro. The economy, total global trade and the livelihoods of the overwhelming majority of 25 million Ghanaians cannot be sacrificed for a paltry tax bill of 37 million euro. West Africa’s development and its future cannot be sold for 132 million euro. ECOWAS must immediately create a REGIONAL SOLIDARITY FUND to absorb these losses. Ghana must signal her complete commitment to promoting this Regional Solidarity Fund rather than its ‘national interest’ in the IEPA. It must also reject the attacks the EU is making on the ECOWAS levy in the EPA negotiations, as this is the kind of mechanism needed to create the solidarity fund.

3. Beyond the immediate threat of extra tariffs on exports to Europe from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria (the non-LDC countries in ECOWAS), it must be made clear that ALL West African countries will incur massive fiscal losses from the EPAs. It is worth reminder that the 13 West African LDCs currently export everything but arms duty-free, quota-free to the EU market. But they are currently entitled to impose tariffs on all EU imports. Revenue from trade tariffs are the lifeblood for these and other least developed as well as vulnerable lower income developing countries. Ghana alone stands to lose $194 million (UNECA, 2005). Under the EPA even the LDCs have to grant EU imports free entry and lose the associated revenues from tariffs. This will be ‘in exchange’ for something they ALREADY HAVE (and have for free), i.e. duty-free quota-free access to EU markets for all exports apart from arms.

Further, the EU’s position on various aspects of the EPAs, e.g. standstill on introduction of new tariffs and taxes or increase in existing ones; restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions; the MFN, non-execution clause and others, collectively termed ‘contentious issues’ in the negotiations, will divert trade within West Africa as well as West African trade with other, non-EU countries and regions to their gain but to our loss. They will also undermine the Region’s efforts to industrialize and its ability to move up the industrial value chain. As a result, the region will remain a perpetual supplier of raw materials, with all the adverse implications that this entails. Any regional EPA must remove these EU impositions and narrow the scope of threat or damage to ECOWAS. Suspending Ghana’s IEPA and the provisions it contains on these issues will enhance ECOWAS ability to review and strengthen its collective positions.

1[4]. The EU’s demands and pressure in areas that go beyond tariffs and World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments – such as Financial Services, Public Procurement, Investment, Health, Raw Materials, Natural Resources and Intellectual Property – pose even greater threats and are of more strategic importance to Ghana’s (as well as West Africa’s) economic transformation, industrialization and overall development. In the case of Services, internal trade within West Africa is even bigger and more dynamic than trade in goods within the region. But West Africa is hardly in a position to export services to the EU. Officials claim that negotiating and including services (as well as the other WTO-plus, Trade-Related Issues like Procurement. Investment and Intellectual Property) will create a predictable environment for EU trade and investment in West Africa. We have already had increasingly free trade in goods with the EU and others for more than 30 years. There is one predictable outcome we already know – EU companies will dominate in these areas, our already low existing capacity will be weakened even further, including our foothold in the growth areas of trade in services and in manufactures within West Africa. Any EPA must be a goods-only agreement and must exclude Services and the so-called Trade related Issues.

5. While ECOWAS has bent over backwards to accommodate EU demands, her ‘partner’ remains inflexible, unyielding or worse. In fact the EU has consistently flouted and retracted on commitments it has previously made. A most telling example is in the area of EU responsibility to finance fiscal losses West African countries will incur as a result of entering into EPAs. Another is the subterfuge the EU has shown in respect of providing ADDITIONAL funding for the EPA Development Programme (or ‘PAPED’). The EU has watered down and reversed commitments and has engaged in patent falsehoods, recycling existing European Development Fund commitments as ‘new and additional funding’. By foul and other means the EU continues to show beyond all reasonable doubt that its interests in the EPAs have little or nothing to do with ECOWAS development or regional integration aspirations, but everything to do with securing preferential advantages in West African economies and markets against all comers – including our own domestic and regional producers and our development needs. ECOWAS must insist and secure binding and unequivocal EU compensation, adjustment and development commitments as a pre-condition for any EPA.

6. But Ghana and West Africa must also prioritize the diversification of their trade away from the EU, as well as our own developmental regionally integrated production capacities, investments and markets. The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs. In Europe today, the corporate monopolies in the financial services sector in particular are holding all working people in Europe and whole economies to ransom. Meanwhile as current trends show, many more prospects exits for production partnerships, trade, investment and economic development with emerging regions in the global South. Locking in our entire trade, investment and development finance policies by giving EU privileges no one else has, not even our own companies and citizens, is not a forward looking policy. Today we are unable to share in windfall profits of mining companies because we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

3.0 Conclusion

As Ghanaian organisations and citizens we call on the Government of Ghana to live up to the nation’s role and responsibility to ECOWAS and Africa’s unity and to our self-determination in charting and realising our developmental transformation. Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation has not brought us any closer to this. Rather it has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

Ghana must pull back from the brink of a unilateralism that will put another nail in the coffin of development in our country and in our region. It must suspend its bilateral EPA and fully and unconditionally return to the fold of the collective regional EPA process. Ghana cannot ride two horses at once. Two horses going in different and opposite direction will tear the rider apart and trample her underfoot.

Sister ECOWAS Trade Ministers and Governments must also play their part that we ride together towards the same destination and destiny for our collective mutual protection and benefit. The ECOWAS MMC must define a collective solution that addresses any losses that Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries will face in the absence of their interim EPAs. This is the most immediate means to consolidate ECOWAS in the EPA process and in our deep common interests that go way beyond extra taxes that we will have to pay on a very small proportion of our exports to Europe.

Accra, 28th November 2011. Signed by the ff Organizations:
GHANA TRADE UNION CONGRESS,
GHANA TRADE AND LIVELIHOODS COALITION,
ISODEC,
THIRD WORLD NETWORK-AFRICA,
ABIBIMAN FOUNDATION,
ACTION AID GHANA,
GAWU,
SEND FOUNDATION,
FOODSPAN
– all members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)

h/t to E.K Bensah for bringing this to my attention:
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr.
Communications Officer (Web Journalist)
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
Third World Network– Africa
9, Ollenu Street East Legon
P.O.Box AN 19452
Accra-Ghana

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. Dr. Nfor N. Susungi

Considering the facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire. We believe however, that there is a constitutional president. Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President Of Angola

Estimated undiscovered and recoverable oil and natural gas off the coast of Ivory Coast, extending through Ghana, Togo, Benin, and the western edge of Nigeria.: 4,071 MMBO, million barrels of oil, 34,451 BCFG, billion cubic feet of gas, and 1,145 MMBNGL, million barrels of natural gas liquids, for the Coastal Plain and Offshore AU in the Gulf of Guinea Province, outlined in red. This does not include current existing discoveries, or fields already in production. Note that it extends along the entire coast of Ivory Coast.

“In any case, people should stop to consider the circumstances under which the election results were declared. The election result was not declared by the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire. It was declared by one member of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, in Hôtel du Golf, which is the Headquarters of the Opposition. He was accompanied to do that declaration by the Ambassador of France and the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Indeed, the declaration was not done before the Ivorian media. The declaration was done, exclusively before the French media. No Ivorian journalist was present when the declaration was made. And it was made in the Headquarters of the Opposition.”
Kwesi Pratt

OUTSIDE MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IVORY COAST

ECOWAS threatened military intervention in Ivory Coast if Gbagbo does not cede the presidency to Ouattara. In January the Commander of the U.S. Army Africa, General Hogg (misspelled Hagg in the article) toured West African countries, including Ghana, looking for commitments of proxy soldiers for military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Responding to a question from the Commander of the United States Army in charge of Africa, Major-General David Hagg, Lt Gen Blay said the GAF were overstretched because of their international engagements in peacekeeping operations in various trouble spots in the world and that the top brass had made that known to the Commander-in-Chief of the GAF, President John Evans Atta Mills.

He said the GAF also had their commitments to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

Major-General Hagg was in the country to officially find out whether or not Ghana would commit troops to Cote d’Ivoire, should the need arise.”

Gen. David Hogg, the United States Commander in charge of Africa (left), admiring a gift presented to him by Lt. Gen. Augustine Blay, Ghana's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), at the Burma Camp in Accra, Jan. 12, 2011.

At his New Year’s Press Conference, H.E. President John Evans Atta-Mills presented Ghana’s foreign policy stance on Cote d’Ivoire as one which respects the territorial sovereignty of its neighbor, seeks to use peaceful diplomatic means to resolve the ongoing electoral dispute and puts a priority on the interests of Ghanaians. President Atta-Mills also said in his “personal opinion” he did not believe that military force will be beneficial in resolving the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and therefore was opposed to a military invasion of Cote d’Ivoire.

President Mills opined that he believed we should be guided by the Fanti saying in relation troubles “Dzi wo fie asem, mind your own house/business. He received a lot of criticism for this, including from the BBC, whose David Amanor missed the point. A better explantion of the use of the proverb is provided by Nii Aryertey Aryeh. Mills consulted with the head of GAF, the Ghana Armed Forces, who said Ghana is already overextended with peacekeeping and does not have enough soldiers or resources to undertake military action in Côte d’Ivoire. It is also the case that at least a million Ghanaians live in Côte d’Ivoire. Their lives would be in significantly more danger if Ghana were to engage in military adventurism there. Mills advocates quiet diplomacy to resolve the situation in Ivory Coast.

The current planning for military intervention is hardly credible. Kwesi Pratt describes what has been committed so far. He gave an interview on Radio Gold (transcript) which is the most detailed description of the entire situation I have seen. Here is the excerpt describing the ECOWAS military commitment:

“You know, Suhuyini, I’d like to start with some definitions first. And then you will see how ridiculous the proposition to go to war is. Listen to me very carefully. I just checked, I am not a military man, so yesterday, I spent some time to go on the internet. And these are the definitions I got from the internet:

A platoon, a platoon, and fortunately Dr. Tony Aidoo is in the studio, having been Deputy Minister of Defence before, he may understand these things better than me.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: It is a small unit.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. You understand? I will relate it to what I am going to say very soon. A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. A company is eighty to two hundred and twenty five men. A battalion is three hundred to thousand three hundred men. And a regiment or brigade, is between three thousand and five thousand men and so on.

Now we are saying that the Ghana government is not committed to war. Other nations are committed to war. What is their concrete commitments? Look, ECOWAS chiefs of staff met in Abuja on the 28th of December last year, to consider the military option. So they said, everybody, bring what you have and let’s go to war. Look at what they brought, Suhuyini, it is very interesting!

Liberia…, Liberia, Liberia committed one infantry platoon. To go to war in La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia contributed twenty six men!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Hm hm hm! [chuckling]
Kwesi Pratt Jnr.: Sierra Leone committed one infantry company. That is all they committed. One infantry company! Senegal, Senegal which is leading the charge, Senegal and Burkina Faso which are leading the charge listen to what they contributed. Senegal is contributing one commando company, one motorised infantry company, and one battalion headquarters, take note, headquarters, not a battalion, one battalion headquarters with level two hospital. Benin decided to contribute only one mechanised company! One mechanised company!

It is getting more and more interesting. Now you can see the point I am making. Togo, Togo decided to commit one motorised company, and a possible commando company. A “possible”, it is not definite, commando company. Mali decided to contribute one transport company, one engineer company, and one motorised company.

Burkina Faso, Blaise Campoore’s Burkina Faso. Blaise Campoore who is touring the world to make the case for military intervention. He has been to Britain, he’s been to France, he is all over the place! Look at his contribution and you would laugh! Blaise Campoore’s contribution, Burkina Faso’s contribution is one mechanised infantry company, one commando company, and one engineer company. These are the contributions they are making.

This is a reflection of the commitment of West African leaders to war in La Côte d’Ivoire!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Nigeria’s contribution is this. One motorised or mechanised battalion. One! One F-17 Fighter Squadron,

Dr. Tony Aidoo: A squadron is five people.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.; Yeah. One M-135 squadron, one single company and battalion headquarters. Headquarters-ooh? Sea assets, and additional one or two infantry companies, as may be required. And indeed, Nigeria is making the highest contribution.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: They don’t even reach two thousand!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Master, this force is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men! This is the force that is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men!
… this is their death warrant being signed!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Suicide mission.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr..: This is a suicide mission! Suicide mission! My brother, listen to me very carefully. If you have been to Abidjan before, Abidjan is a densely populated city, with high rise buildings and so on To be able to take Abidjan, you need have total air domination. You need to have troops which would take complete control of the ground and so on. In fact, the estimates to be able to do that, the interventionist force needs not less than twenty thousand men, to be able to do this effectively and to do it quickly.

And yet, our leaders in Africa think that with less than two thousand men, and outdated equipment and so on, they will be able to do it! God bless them! They are only sentencing their soldiers to death, painful death on the streets of La Côte d’Ivoire.

I am happy that our Commander-In-Chief, and President, has taken the wise decision not push Ghanaian soldiers into this reckless adventure! The lives of Ghanaian soldiers are important to us!”

The AU is currently asking a group of African leaders to persuade Gbagbo to step down. Their mandate has been extended through February. So far it looks like a stalemate. Ouattara is recognized the winner by the international community, the US and France feature prominently among those declaring Ouattara the winner, and appear to have engineered the announcement that Ouattara won. So it behooves us to examine exactly what happened. The information below comes from Kwesi Pratt (1) Dr. Nfor N. Susungi (2) and The Socialist Forum of Ghana (3). You can listen to Kwesi Pratt’s interview on Radio Gold.

THE FACTS ON THE GROUND

“Now if you are going to respect the facts, what are the facts?

The African Union, which has joined ECOWAS and the UN in insisting on the military option, and insisting that Ouattara won the elections in La Côte d’Ivoire, sent an observer team to La Côte d’Ivoire to observe both the first round and the second round of the elections. The African Union Team was led by Koku Koffigoh, former Prime Minister of Togo.

At the end of the elections, Koku Kofigoh, made a public statement in Abidjan to the effect that the results of the elections were not credible. They were not credible! And that they were vitiated by extreme violence, stuffing of ballot boxes and so on. Indeed it is interesting that two of the AU observers were kidnapped by the New Forces, and it took the intervention of the United Nations to secure their release.

AU sends an Observer Mission, the Observer Mission says the elections are not credible, and yet the AU declares a winner! And insists that we should go to war in order to make the “winner” the President, when its own Observer Mission, headed by a former Prime Minister, says that the elections were not credible!” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi provides more detail:

Was the Presidential Election in Cote d’Ivoire Free and Fair?

For once, this is the easiest question to answer because the simple answer is NO. It was not possible to conduct free and fair elections in a country which was still cut in half with the rebel Forces Nouvelles (under the direct Command and control of Prime Minister Soro Guillaume) still controlling the northern half, having resisted all attempts to get them to disarm as required by the so-called Accords Politique de Ouagadougou. In spite of the fact that not even ONUCI with nearly 9,000 troops had succeeded in getting the rebels to disarm before the election, pressure was brought by the US and France, through the United Nations, for the elections to proceed.

The exactions that took place during the elections by armed groups in the rebel controlled north were detailed in consistent and concordant reports presented by various observer groups, including that of the African Union led by former Togolese Prime Minister Joseph Koffi KOFFIGOH, who all concluded that the scale of electoral abuses in the northern zone were on such a scale as to discredit the sincerity of the vote in many areas in the North.

Curiously, Curiously, Curiously, we started hearing voices to the effect that the credibility of local (African) observers was questionable. That is because the reports of European and American observers had already given passing marks to the entire election. The racist undertone to the denigrating commentary directed at African observers was absolutely unmistakable. That is when we all began to suspect that there was a grand agenda in this election which was not known to the public.

So who won the last election in Cote d’Ivoire?

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. …

The only thing that we know with absolute certainty is that Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, the President of the CEI, having failed to announce the preliminary results within the stipulated 72-hour period, transmitted the election materials to the Constitutional Council after midnight on Wednesday 1/12/2010. Then on Thursday 2/12/2010 he went to Alassane’s campaign HQ at Golf Hotel to attend a press conference and ended up declaring Allassane the winner in a 3 minute speech. None were more stunned at this development than his fellow members of the CEI who were completely taken unawares.

The second thing that we know for sure is that Youssouf Bakayoko announcement at Golf Hotel was carried live on France 24 and other foreign media and that no Ivorian news network was present. The third thing which we know for sure is that the Constitutional Council declared Youssouf Bakayoko’s results invalid for being made after 72-hour deadline and for making it single-handedly in the campaign HQ of one candidate. The Constitutional Council went on to declare on Friday 3/12/2010 Gbagbo the final winner of the election after ruling on the validity petitions which were filed by Gbagbo to the Constitutional Council.

The last thing that we know with absolute certainty is that everyone seems to have taken sides since then and depending on whether you support Laurent Gbagbo or Allassane Dramane Ouattara, each side has been tuning only into the news networks which amplify the information which is favourable to their point of view.

The Constitution vs. the United Nations

Paul Yao Ndre is a Constitutional Lawyer of impeccable credentials and the ruling of the Constitutional Council under his Presidency cannot be dismissed just because he is reportedly a friend of Laurent Gbagbo. Whatever the case, since his ruling, he has come forward to defend the legal grounds on which he made his rulings whereas, nothing has been heard of Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko since he announced the results at Golf Hotel. The question is where is he and why has he gone into hiding? Who and what is he afraid of?

In all fairness to the camp of Allassane Dramane Ouattara, they may have been inclined to accept fatalistically the decision of the Constitutional Council … But unfortunately they were encouraged to engage in dissidence by the belief that there is another jurisdiction above the Constitutional Council when Mr. Choi, the UN Representative publicly disowned the results of the Constitutional Court by “certifying” that the winner of the election was Mr. Allassane Dramane Ouattara.

I listened, live, to the press briefing of Mr. Choi on ONUCI FM at which Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, a well-known Ghanaian journalist asked him, “Are you saying that there are two Presidents in Cote d’Ivoire now?” Mr. Choi replied in the affirmative. From that moment, I knew that Cote d’Ivoire was heading for an abyss and Mr. Choi was a very dangerous international civil servant who had triggered something very sinister which was now unstoppable.” (2)

U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi (L) attends a meeting with Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan December 9, 2010. The U.N. Security Council has backed Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast's disputed Nov. 28 presidential election. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

________

The Socialist Forum of Ghana fills in more detail with some thought to the long range consequences:

“It is clear that both leaders enjoy significant support and that their supporters genuinely believe that others seek to cheat them out of deserved victory. The imposition of either leader on Ivoirians can only escalate the conflict. La Cote d’Ivoire deserves better.

Pan-African activists must challenge recent declarations made in the names of ECOWAS and the AU as well as the processes through which our regional bodies make critical decisions. The “AU” position was announced by a secretariat official without Council approval and purely on the basis of the supposed ECOWAS position. The Abuja ECOWAS summit itself was attended by only 5 out of 15 eligible heads of State and was apparently conducted on the basis of their “seniority” – i.e. longevity in office. Three of the heads of state present (Presidents Jonathan of Nigeria, Wade of Senegal and Compaore of Burkina Faso) endorsed Ouattara. Presidents Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia and Mills of Ghana urged caution and engagement. The only other ECOWAS leader that has taken a public position on the matter (President Jammeh of Gambia) has come out in support of President Gbagbo. Three out of sixteen is hardly a democratic majority. It is certainly inadequate for making life and death decisions affecting millions. That the majority of ECOWAS leaders have not spoken to the Ivoirian elections whether of reluctance to attract scrutiny to their own electoral credentials or fear of antagonising the “international community” or sheer short sighted indifference is simply not acceptable. We must demand more of our leaders.

More fundamentally we must challenge the narrative that suggests that La Cote d’Ivoire’s problem is an electoral one. A credible election in La Cote d’Ivoire would help to resolve the larger political crisis. However, the election dispute is only the most immediate of the deep divisions that afflict Ivoirians like. The fundamental division that drives African politics is the division between the incredibly wealthy foreign and local elites that control continental resources and the dispossessed and oppressed African poor that have to sell their labour and surrender their dignity to these elite machines just to survive. This fundamental division in African society has been compounded across the continent by many decades of elite divide-and-rule tactics that promoted secondary identity differences between ordinary working Ivoirians precisely to prevent them from uniting and challenging the elites responsible for their misery.” (3)

[Note: Horace Campbell provides more detail and background on Ivory Coast's recent history, particularly the divisions mentioned above that have been ruthlessly exploited by the powerful to retain power, quoted here in January.]

“In Cote La d’Ivoire several factors allowed those identity divisions to take on a life of their own in the 21st century. These included the growing challenge to French neo-colonial hegemony in West Africa from the US and from certain regional interests. These also included the collapse of local elite coherence following the death of President Houphouet-Boigny. As neo-colonial power fragmented in the mid-2000s identity politics degenerated to militarisation and partition and a massive increase in the woes of the Ivoirian people. Obviously, the imposition by the “international community” of Alassane Ouattara on such a deeply divided society will not solve the La Cote d’Ivoire crisis. What it will do is however is advance the overall cause of neo-colonialism and set the scene for further conflict between France and the US and allied regional powers for control over La Cote d’Ivoire and regional resources – in particular oil and gas.” (3)

In the western media you will not see much about oil being an issue in Ivory Coast. The news stories all talk about cocoa. But if you look at the map above you can see the significance. And no doubt the prospect of oil money makes the Ivorian presidential contenders more contentious. Oil is most certainly the reason AFRICOM’s General Hogg was seeking troop commitments in January for military intervention.

ON COUNTING THE VOTES

Kwesi Pratt tells us more about the vote counts:

“… take the Vallée du Bandama region in La Côte d’Ivoire, the Electoral Commission comes up with votes, you understand, votes, for Ouattara, you add those votes, they come to one hundred and forty nine thousand votes, and yet the declaration of results gives Ouatarra two hundred and forty four thousand votes! Who would accept this? You go to some other constituencies, turn-out, eh? Is two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Who would accept those results?

Indeed, I asked my colleague and friend, Comrade Kwesi Adu, to do an analysis of the election results, because he does these things. He was an election observer in Guinea and so on, so he is so good at it. And I asked him to do an analysis. In one constituency, Gbagbo won one hundred and eighty per cent of all the registered voters. In the same constituency Ouattara won one hundred and something per cent of registered voters. How do you accept these results? How can you say that these results represent the will of the Ivorian people? By what magic?

So, either people are deliberately lying, or they don’t know the facts, or they are being insincere in the discussion of the Ivorian crisis.” (1)

THE IVORIAN CONSTITUTION

Pratt continues to describe the constitutional issues:

“What Does The Law Of La Côte d’Ivoire Say?
The law of La Côte d’Ivoire says it very clearly that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire declares provisional results. That those provisional results ought to be validated by the Constitutional Council. That is what the law says. So, the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, does not declare who a winner is. It only declares provisional results. It is only the Constitutional Council of La Côte d’Ivoire, which can declare a winner in an election.

Then you have some apologists of Ouattara, they come up and they say, look, the legal position is that that provision of La Côte d’Ivoire Constitution was suspended because an agreement was reached under UN auspices! My brother, this is a joke! Is anybody telling me that the UN, ECOWAS, AU, or any International organisation, can amend the constitution of a country, without reference to the people of that country? Does it make sense?

Even if you accept that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire is an independent Commission, and you accept that the final constitutional authority for declaring results is the Constitutional Council, what you do have in La Côte d’Ivoire is a situation where the electoral Commission has declared one result, and the Constitutional Council has declared another result. What you do have is a political crisis! It is an issue of the legitimacy of two state institutions.
Do You Resolve That By Going To War?”
(1)

Pratt compares the situation to the recent elections in Belarus and in Egypt, in which nobody suggested interfering or sending in troops, despite questions of legitimacy.

“So they [the international community] are acting clearly from a self-interest point of view! And we say, that our self-interest does not matter! So when the President says “Dzi wo fie asem”, then there is a problem! But all of them, every one of them, France, the United States, Britain, all of them they are “dzing their fie asem”! All of them!

None of them is doing what they are doing because they love West Africans more than themselves! They are doing it because of their interests in the strategic resources of La Côte d’Ivoire!

And that is why it is important for us to wake up to that reality and to begin to raise the fundamental questions of law and constitutionality.” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi tells us more about the constitutional issues:

“The real adversary standing between Allassane Dramane Ouattara and the Presidency of Cote d’Ivoire is not Laurent Gbagbo; it is Professor Paul Yao Ndre, the President of the Constitutional Council. Contrary to what many people seem to think, Paul Yao Ndre is a very able and independent-minded legal thinker who is sure about the legal grounds on which he made his ruling. He has full constitutional powers to make any ruling on the regularity of any aspects of the electoral process including, above all, on the validity of the announcement which was made by Youssouf Bakayoko at Golf Hotel.

On this particular point, his ruling was that the announcement was null and void because it was made after 72-hour foreclosure deadline and in the partisan context of the campaign HQ of one candidate. This is the most important ruling made by Professor Paul Yao Ndre and it is valid and binding. Any one challenging this ruling is attacking an institution, not a person.

The venom which is being poured prematurely on Professor Paul Yao Ndre at the moment is a serious mistake with which the United States should not be associated because even if an ECOWAS intervention force dislodges Laurent Gbagbo, the Armed Forces of Cote d’Ivoire will never swear their allegiance to defend Allassane as President unless he is sworn-in by Professor Paul Yao Ndre. As things stand at the moment, even if the Presidency became vacant, Allassane cannot claim it automatically because Professor Paul Yao Ndre will have no grounds for swearing-in Allassane to occupy the post of President.

The Role of Regional Organizations
Equally shocking has been the role of regional organizations which took their decisions without bothering to hear both sides of the story. Allassane Dramane Ouattara has been proclaimed winner by the “International Community” while Laurent Gbagbo has been declared winner by the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. None can ignore the other because each one of them can claim to be standing on solid ground.
Clearly, the Ivorian crisis is breaking new ground in defining a new constitutional jurisdiction transcending the concept of sovereign states as defined and understood under the UN and AU charter. That new and emerging constitutional jurisdiction is known vaguely as “the International Community”. The powers that his new jurisdiction has arrogated to itself include the power to certify elections in a sovereign state and to declare war on a sovereign state. It is not yet clear whether the Ivorian crisis is a one-off situation or whether it is part of an emerging trend.

If it is part of a trend, then it is necessary for the world to get together very quickly and adopt some convention defining who “the International Community” is and what are its powers of intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. Failing that, we should expect that the world, and more particularly Africa, will enter a period of political instability on a scale never known before.

It is regrettable that it is only after the last ECOWAS summit unilaterally declared war on Laurent Gbagbo that they finally decided to send a delegation to deliver the ultimatum to Laurent Gbagbo. This is a watershed event in African history. The damage is already done. If the ECOWAS war does breakout, Africa will face its greatest challenge since the advent of independence in the Gold Coast in 1957. ECOWAS and UEMOA are now in deep trouble. The break-up of ECOWAS is on the cards if war breaks out and the withdrawal of Cote d’Ivoire from the CFA zone is also a possibility.” (2)

THE WHOLE PICTURE

Kwesi Pratt quotes His Excellency, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, The President Of Angola, who sums up the issues clearly and unequivocally.

“The facts specifically tell us the following;

One: The president of the Electoral Commission released the results of the second round of the presidential election, when it was out of his competence to do so, since his time, for purposes defined by law, was expired and since the issue had been transferred to the Constitutional Council for due consideration and treatment.

Two: The United Nations representative in Côte d’Ivoire in a hastened move, certified and announced those results when the relevant UN resolution states that the certification should focus on election results validated by the Constitutional Council, which had not yet made a pronouncement.

Three: The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community.”

And Listen very carefully,. The President of Angola says:

“The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community, since the Constitutional Council had not validated the provisional results released by the president of the Electoral Commission as a result of having accepted objections and complaints of serious irregularities and fraud which undermined these results.

Four: The Constitutional Council is in fact the only organ with the legal competence to validate and publish the final results of the elections.

Five: Under the law, The Constitutional Council should recommend the holding of new elections within 45 days, but it did not proceed in this manner and instead reported results that attributed the victory to another candidate.

Considering the above facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire.

We believe however, that there is a constitutional president…,”

And this is very important, listen to the Angolan position:

“We believe however, that there is a constitutional president, the current president of the republic, who happens to be Laurent Gbagbo, who must remain in power until the new election as established by the electoral law of that country. The greatest difficulty now is that the 45 days are not enough to create a favourable climate for elections, and the current crisis complicates the matter further.

We are therefore of the opinion that any military intervention in the particular case of Côte d’Ivoire would have an adverse effect, with serious consequences beyond its borders.

The Angolan Executive supports and encourages dialogue and negotiations to overcome the crisis in this brother country, and believes that by demonstrating political will, wisdom, and realism, it is possible to find a solution that focuses, first and foremost, on the legitimate interests of all the people of Côte d’Ivoire.” (1)

Why does the international community want military intervention? The forces proposed are obviously hopelessly inadequate for the job. Nothing could be accomplished by them except to provoke instability and prolonged civil war. Is instability and civil war the objective? Would that help neo-colonial predators extract natural resources on their own terms? (death and suffering for you, money for us) Military intervention will burn all the parties involved, except perhaps certain multinational corporations engaged in extractive industries.

Côte d’Ivoire is in a state of profound political and constitutional crisis over the legitimacy of state institutions The imposition of either leader on Ivorians can only escalate the conflict. War will escalate the problems and delay any solutions. The country needs dialog and peaceful negotiations and diplomatic assistance. Angola’s President is correct in stating that Côte d’Ivoire has a constitutional president, but not an elected one. Ultimately Côte d’Ivoire needs to hold a new election. Although that may not help until it comes to better terms with who gets to vote, who runs the polls, and who counts the votes. The international community needs to back off from stepping in and overriding the constitution of a sovereign nation.

Dec. 15, 2010 marked a great day in the lives of many Ghanaians because Ghana joined the list of countries producing oil on a commercial basis. The question on most people’s minds is: How does this benefit us (Ghanaians)?

Ghana's President John Atta Mills turns on the valve to allow the first barrel of crude to flow from the Jubilee offshore oil field on Dec. 15. Ghanaians welcomed their country's first oil on Wednesday, optimistic they can enjoy the economic benefits without the troubles that oil wealth has brought other African countries. CTM Communications/Tullow Oil/Reuters

His Excellency John Atta Mills, President of Ghana, was in Sekondi-Takoradi, where he was flown offshore to the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to open the valves to make way for the flow of first oil. Jubilee Partners, which include Tullow Oil plc (34.7 percent), Anadarko Petroleum Corp (23.49 percent), Kosmos Energy (23.49 percent), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) (13.75 percent), Sabre Oil and Gas (2.81 percent) and E.O. Group (1.75 percent) participated in a formal celebration to commemorate the first oil, hosted by the president at the Takoradi Air force base.

The first phase of production at the Jubilee oilfield has begun, ramping up to 55,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) this month and 120,000 BOPD during the first half of 2011 as additional wells are completed. This marks the beginning of Ghana’s first significant commercial oil production and will allow the country to join the ranks of sizable West African oil exporters.

Estimates on the quantum of Ghana’s oil wealth vary hugely. The common starting point is that Jubilee will produce about 120,000 barrels per day and some $1.2 billion in government revenue a year for 20 years.

Map of Ghana offshore oil fields including Jubilee, Tweneboa, and Dzata

The adjacent Tweneboa field is reckoned to be as big as Jubilee’s, but industry experts forecast the biggest finds will be onshore in the Keta basin. With companies like Exxon Mobil, BP, ENI and Sinopec vying to buy equity in the Jubilee field, the assumption is that Ghana has several billion barrels of reserves.

Location of the Keta basin study area, wells and proximity to other fields in the Gulf of Guinea Province.

David Throup of Online Africa Policy Forums Blog points out that:

Ghana urgently needs to improve its infrastructure: it needs new sewers and water pipes and ring-roads in Accra, a revamped electricity grid, improved generating facilities at Akosombo, improved rail-links from Accra to Kumasi and Tamale and on to Burkina Faso, and a renewed and extended network of secondary and tertiary feeder roads through the rural hinterland. Others will argue for improving educational and health facilities. Such development spending would generate employment in construction and ancillary services, and hopefully promote sustained economic activity and growth. In a society where 60-70 percent of the population depends on smallholder agriculture for their livelihoods and 90 percent of the population in urban areas depends on the informal sector, such job-generating spending could be beneficial. But the money must be spent wisely and over a number of years if it is not to exacerbate inflation and exceed Ghana’s capacity to absorb the spending.

Ghana enters new era with oil field launch

TAKORADI, Ghana, December 15 – Ghana joined the ranks of Africa’s oil exporters on Wednesday, pledging to work to ensure lucrative new revenues further bolster one of the continent’s rising star economies.

John Atta Mills, the president of Ghana, wearing safety gear and blue overalls, opened the valves in a televised ceremony at the 330-metre-long floating platform some 40 miles (60 km) off the west African country’s Atlantic coast.

Initial production of around 120,000 barrels per day will rank Ghana as sub-Saharan Africa’s seventh largest producer, with output set to double within three years.

The start of commercial production came just three years after discovery of oil at the field, named Jubilee to mark the timing of the find 50 years after independence in 1957.

“After a long wait, the day has come,” Mr Mills said.

“But … it means that we are assuming a very serious responsibility. And especially for those who are in leadership positions, we must ensure that it becomes a blessing not a curse,” he warned.

Aside from state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), top players in Jubilee include UK-listed operator Tullow Oil, US producer Anadarko Petroleum and privately held US energy firm Kosmos.

The event underlines the importance of the Gulf of Guinea as a growing source of energy to consumers such as the US, where some see it supplying a quarter of US oil by 2015.

The region already counts Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo Republic as exporters and others such as Liberia and Sierra Leone are hopeful of joining the club.

Ghana has taken advice in how to manage its oil sector from countries including Norway, and is anxious to avoid the strife and corruption which nearby Nigeria’s oil has brought.

“It will be a blessing because we are all jobless and poor,” said Brian Salmon, a 17-year-old small-holder in the western region coastal town of Takoradi.

“Normally when oil comes everybody is fighting to get their daily bread, but we Ghanaians have an understanding and will avoid conflict,” he added.

Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producer after neighbouring Ivory Coast and Africa’s number two gold miner. It has a $750m eurobond currently yielding about 6.4 per cent.

Ghana expects Jubilee’s oil and gas to help double its growth rate to more than 12 per cent next year, funding projects to boost infrastructure and laying the foundation for new industrial sectors. New data on Wednesday showed inflation running at 18-year lows.

Analysts say that while two decades of multi-party politics have led to a level of governance others in the volatile region can only dream of, Accra has dragged its heels on drafting the legal framework needed to manage the oil revenues.

Total revenue from oil into the 2011 budget is put at only 1.9 per cent of GDP. Although this is due to rise over the years, the initial impact on the economy is seen as modest.

Many are concerned a complex petroleum revenue management bill has yet to be voted by parliament and note the current draft allows 70 per cent of revenues to be used as collateral against loans, a possible incitement to excess borrowing.

“As a country we have a fairly terrible track record of hedging our commodities,” said Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi of Ghana’s Centre for Democratic Development.

Ghana failed to tuck away proceeds from its assets in time to cushion it from a price slump in 2000, forcing it to seek $3.7bn debt relief two years later. Its budget deficit is set to finish 2010 just under 10 per cent of national output.

In a saga that unnerved some potential investors, Kosmos in August called off what sources close to the deal said was a $4bn pact to sell its stake to ExxonMobil after resistance from GNPC, which wants to raise its own holding.

Ghana Pumps First Official Oil

History was recorded yesterday in the Western Region when President Atta-Mills turned the valve on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to signify the beginning of the production of crude oil in commercial quantities in the Jubilee oil field.

It was a memorable occasion for all Ghanaians many who stayed glued to their TVs at home and work places to watch the programme live. The function itself took place at the Takoradi Air Force base and was graced by two former Presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor as well as Ministers of State, members of the diplomatic corps, Members of Parliament, Chiefs and Ghanaians from all walks of life.

Also present were the jubilee partners; Tullow Oil plc, Anadarko, EO Group, Cosmos, Sabre and GNPC who are the shareholders of the Jubilee field.

At about 10 am, President Mills arrived on the FPSO in a helicopter and went through the safety briefing before being led by a Tullow official to the pipeline where he turned open the valve to open the pipes for the crude oil to gush through.

Ghana’s oil is the light sweet crude kind that is much sought after in the international market. The Jubilee Field will produce an initial 55,000 barrels of oil per day, but with the development of more wells, production is expected to hit 120,000 barrels per day.

The first export of oil will be in the first week of January 2011 to the United States of America and other European countries with the rest being used for domestic purposes. President John Evans Attah Mills, after turning open the valve, went ahead to interact with some Ghanaian engineers and doctors working in the vessel. Dr. Claudia Donkor and trainee engineers Emmanuel Kojo Dei and Francis Antwi were part of those the President interacted with. They expressed their joy at being part of the historic occasion.

Addressing a large gathering at the Takoradi Air Force base later on, President Mills paid glowing tributes to Former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor for their immense contribution towards the production of crude oil in commercial quantities in Ghana.

He said former president Rawlings “clearly laid a massive foundation for what we are witnessing today. President John Agyekum Kufour continued from where President Rawlings left off. He also devoted attention to the oil.”

President Mills also paid special homage to Former GNPC boss, Tsatsu Tsikata under whose watch great strides were made towards the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in Ghana.

The President also applauded the efforts of the Jubilee partners in concluding Ghana’s odyssey to crude oil production in commercial quantities but reminded them on the need to respect all the agreements signed especially the fact that local content in the production process must be a priority.

Touching on the concerns raised by Chiefs in the Western Region about the need to use 10% of the oil revenue to develop the region, the President assured them that the region would be given priority.

“The Western Region where the oil and gas is located will be given the pride of place as far as development is concerned. Indeed there will be a massive development within the Western Region in the next few months,” he said.

With production beginning, Ghanaians are hoping that the under development that has been the lot of the country for years would soon be a thing of the past.

I spoke with Ghana. Everyone was watching on tv and feeling some pride. We are all watching with hope and trepidation in our hearts. In all too many cases we are watching with greed in our hearts as well. May we protect ourselves from the ill effects of our own greed and the immense greed from outside Ghana’s borders. And may all Ghanaians share and enjoy the benefits and positive opportunities the oil offers.

Oil Companies Impose Foreign Policy On Ghana

“Some of the oil companies operating in the Jubilee Field have taken an unprecedented step to control Ghana’s foreign policy and reduce the country to nothing more than an instrument of US hostility against other countries.

In a proposal to the Government of Ghana, the Companies are insisting that Ghana should automatically apply US sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Sudan.

Map of Ghana offshore oil fields including Jubilee and Dzata

The exact proposal is contained in the “Jubilee Field Unit Crude Oil Lifting Agreement” which is scheduled to be discussed in London next week.

It states that “All export tankers owned, technically managed or commercially operated by a company headquartered in, or flying flags of US sanctioned countries shall be automatically rejected.

“At present these countries are, Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

“TGL reserves the right to specify certain further flag states to be subject to this section 1.7 if they have been found not to comply with TGL vetting procedure.”

The proposal is calculated to undermine relations between Ghana and Cuba, Iran and Sudan and does not take account of the strategic interest of the people of Ghana.

Ghana has excellent relations with Iran which spans the fields of Health, Agriculture, Education and Culture.

Last month Iran gave Ghana a grant of US$1.5 million and tractors for the agricultural sector.

Iran has also established a University and a Clinic in Accra.

Every year, Cuba gives Ghana at least 200 health workers who keep the country’s health delivery system alive.

Cuban experts are also currently working on a malaria eradication project in Ghana and other West African States.

Over the last 30 years, Cuba has provided scholarships to thousands of Ghanaians to study in different fields.

If the Government of Ghana accepts these demands it will turn Ghana into a poodle of the US and undermine her credibility in the African Union and the Non-Aligned
Movement.”

Kwesi Pratt, The Insight Newspaper comments at GhanaWeb

Deja vu all over again

Differences over Ghana’s foreign policy caused the US to engineer and support the coup that overthrew Nkrumah.

What new kind of interference may we be looking at?

With whom is the US Africa Command partnering?

US Embassies are actively engaged in spying on African countries and citizens, collecting:

-- Biographic and biometric data, including health, opinions 
toward the US, training history, ethnicity (tribal and/or 
clan), and language skills of key and emerging political, 
military, intelligence, opposition, ethnic, religious, and 
business leaders.  Data should include email addresses, 
telephone and fax numbers, fingerprints, facial images, DNA, 
and iris scans.
09STATE37561

It seems like US foreign policy can be summed up with a line I heard in a cartoon this week: A friend is just an enemy who has not attacked yet.

Here are AGRA’s agents in Ghana. The result of their efforts, if they are successful, will be small farmers crushed by debt and forced off their land, the land will be depleted by chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and new super weeds and insect pests will flourish. As a friend who has worked with AGRA in Ghana says, if they give you 2000, they make sure to get 4000 back from you (in dollars, cedis, or any currency you name).

AGRA Watch researchers have mapped AGRA grant recipients and some alternatives to AGRA. The map, which is linked below, covers all of Africa, this is just the Ghana section.

AGRA Watch Resources

These are the organizations and individuals in Ghana, marked on the map, who are developing and promoting AGRA’s GMO seeds and chemical agriculture:

AGRA Grants (blue markers):
Category: Seed Production for Africa


Alpha Seed Enterprise
About, Personnel, Linkages, Approach
Last Updated on May 26, 2009
Principal Investigator: Mrs. Felicia Ewool
Purpose: To provide seeds of newley released hybrid and open-pollinated maize varieties to poor smallholder farmers of the forest and forest-transition maize growing regions of Ghana, as well as educate them on the importance of using improved seeds in an effort to enhance their productivity.
Amount: $150,000
Projected Duration: 10/1/2008 — 9/30/2010

M&B Seeds and Agricultural Services Ghana Limited
Last Updated on May 26, 2009
Principal Investigator: Mr. Benjamin Anani Kwaku Kemetse
Purpose: To enhance farm productivity and increase incomes of smallholder farmers of the Volta region of Ghana through provision of high yielding improved seeds of maize, soybean, cowpea, rice, groundnut and vegetables; and education on the use of these seeds.
Amount: $149,765
Projected Duration: 5/1/2009 – 4/30/2012

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Their website, www.csir.org.gh is not working today; find some CSIR info here.
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Mr. Isaac Kofi Bimpong
Purpose: For use by its Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) to improve drought tolerance of rice through within-species gene transfer.
Amount: US$35,200
Projected Duration: 9/1/2007 – 4/30/2009
AGRA Grants (turquoise markers) :
Category: Education for African Crop Improvement

Savanna Seed Services Company Limited
Last Updated on May 26, 2009
Principal Investigator: Mr. Patrick Adingtingha Apullah
Purpose: To avail seed of maize, soybean, sorghum, cowpea, rice and groundnut at an affordable price to resource-poor farmers in three administrative regions of northern Ghana.
Amount: $149,973
Projected Duration: 6/15/2008 — 6/14/2010

University of Ghana
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah, Ph.D.
Purpose: To establish a West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Amount: US$4,922,752
Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 6/30/2012

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Akromah
Purpose: To catalyze the development and adoption of improved crop varieties and production of good quality seed adapted to smallholder farmer conditions in the West Africa sub-region, through supporting ten M.Sc. level training in plant breeding and seed science.
Amount: US$387,000
Projected Duration: 9/1/2008 – 8/31/2010

University of Ghana
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Dr. Eric Yirenkyi Danquah
Purpose: To provide supplementary funding toward the Establishment of a West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) at the University of Ghana, Legon (UGL).
Amount: US$859,107
Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 5/31/2012

Cornell University, United States
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Professor Margaret Smith
Purpose: To facilitate the start-up and development of WACCI at the University of Ghana, Legon, to train African agricultural scientists and address critical food security issues facing the region.
Amount: US$1,696,756
Projected Duration: 6/1/2007 – 3/31/2012

AGRA Grants (yellow markers):
Fund for the Improvement and Adoption of African Crops

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Dr. Hans K.Adu-dapaah
Crop: Cowpea
Purpose: To improve cowpea yields among poor smallholder farmers by introgression of genes for flower thrips and Cercospora leaf spot-resistance in farmer-preferred varieties.
Amount: US$184,860
Projected Duration: 7/1/2008 – 6/30/2011

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Savanna Agricultural Research Institute
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mashark Seidu Abdulai
Crop: Maize
Purpose: To develop maize varieties suitable for use by poor smallholder farmers of the Guinea and Sudan savanna zones of Ghana.
Amount: US$184,480
Projected Duration: 3/1/2008 – 2/28/2011

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Mr. Manfred B. Ewool
Crop: Maize
Purpose: To develop higher-yielding, improved hybrid maize varieties for the forest and forest-transition zones of Ghana, for use by poor smallholder farmers.
Amount: US$185,000
Projected Duration: 5/1/2008 – 4/30/2011

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Crops Research Institute
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: Joe Manu-Aduening
Crop: Cassava
Purpose: To develop improved cassava varieties resistant to common pests and diseases and possessing the main farmer-preferred traits.
Amount: US$179,845
Projected Duration: 3/1/2008 – 2/28/2011

AGRA Grants (red marker):
Category: Agro-dealer Development

International Fertilizer Development Center
Last Updated on May 23, 2009
Principal Investigator: J J Robert Groot
Purpose: To create a well-functioning and sustainable input supply system in Ghana in order to increase productivity and incomes of rural food producers in Asante, Brong Ahafo, northern and central regions who account or more than half of the country’s poor.
Amount: US$2,500,000
Projected Duration: 10/1/2008 – 9/30/2011

The result of AGRA’s alien hybrid seeds, alien chemical fertilizers and alien pesticides, will be:

… smallholders will buy the new hybrid seed, fertiliser and pesticide on credit, eventually be forced off their land to repay their debts and end up in the cities, while large corporate style farms will consolidate smallholder land. (Food First)

For more information and links on this subject you can read these previous posts:
Why is Kofi Annan Fronting For Monsanto? The GMO Assault On Africa
AGRA & Monsanto & Gates, Green Washing & Poor Washing

I had wondered exactly where AGRA is operating in Ghana and who is involved. This list should provide a start. Here is this list of grants from the AGRA site.

Those doing the research claim great successes for their products. Most often, the research on effectiveness is funded by the same international corporations that are profiting from the products being researched. All tales of success should be regarded as highly suspect without independent research and verification. Generally the independent research has shown the company funded research and success tales to be highly questionable. Toxic effects have gone unreported and ignored

AGRA Watch Resources provides much more than this map. They provide a list of links to other organizations watching AGRA, and working for food and trade justice, and an excellent targeted reading list. On the map there are green markers for alternatives to AGRA. Unfortunately, there are not many marked, and none are in Ghana. Readers from other countries in Africa can identify who is AGRA in their own countries using this map.

Axim, western end of Cape Three Points from s e b on Flickr

There were stories yesterday and today on GhanaWeb about militant groups organizing in response to the oil drilling activity near Cape Three Points, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, and Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa.

Yesterday’s story, Militant group emerges at Cape Three Point, alleges:

A group calling itself The CAPE MILITIA has emerged as the militant group posing as the official mouthpiece of mostly unemployed youth of the area who believe a large chunk of the oil proceeds should be used to develop first, the oil find area before the larger Ghanaian society.

They also claim their action will be the only way to mitigate the likely environmental hazards and other forms of casualties that inhabitants of the oil find areas are likely to encounter when the oil drilling starts.

According to the leader (name withheld), they hold their daily meetings at Agona Nkwanta, where they engage in the training and the use of fire arms at a village near the Ghana Rubber Estates Plantation at Nkwanta.

The group leader disclosed that they have identified some pipelines under the seabed and will soon start attacking them and threatened to start targeting rig and non-oil facilities, like bridges, buildings belonging to oil companies in the area if they are not assured of equal e opportunities.

“We will give a fore-warning to avoid casualties as our intent is to only bring down a those symbols of oppression and injustice,” the rebel leader noted. “My brother this is the only way we can press home our demands: Western Region has suffered from decades of neglect, pollution, and underdevelopment,” he blurred out with a choked voice.

The group leader said their concerns are corroborated by evidence of destruction of fishing nets of fisher folks of the area and the pollution of their source of drinking water since preparation for the oil find began.

Indeed the leader also recalled how the recent dumping of drilled mud in the sea caused by operators of the Jubilee field has created lots of environmental problems for the people living along the coast.

A fisherman, Opanyin Mbere, was sure that his children had joined the group because they had seen and felt the atrocities meted out to them by the find of the Black Gold.

“Now when I go to sea I have no catch because all the fishes are attracted by the lights from the rigs; then we are told not to fish along the rigs, how should I feed my family, if the cause of my children can bring some hope, huh am in full support,” Opayin Mbere noted.

The first thing that strikes you on meeting members of CAPE MILITIA is the ease with which they communicate their problems and how they identify some probable solutions.

It was amazing, at least those elected to respond to questions, are articulate, well-educated, and conversant with the latest political developments at home and abroad.

There are a number of things that strike me as odd about this report. However it is true that the western region has not been reached by much development.

There was certainly not much about “probable solutions” in the article. The last two paragraphs seem somewhat at odds with the rest of the story. I don’t doubt the possibility of educated and articulate militants, it is just that the rest of the story does not seem to support this. If the supposed militants have such good ideas, it seems some ought to be mentioned as suggestions or examples. Many of the comments are interesting as well. Comments on GhanaWeb are not moderated. So there are always tedious insult wars going on, as well as timely and targeted opinions. You can mouseover the comments to get some sense of what is there.

The second article, Militia reports on Cape Three Points are unnecessary fear mongering – Ablakwa, is a refutation of the story in the first article:

A deputy Minister of Information says reports of Militia groups springing up in the oil rich Cape Three Points in the Western Region of Ghana are untrue and must be discarded.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa told Joy News the reports are of no substance, adding “those who want to give credence to it just want to engage in unnecessary fear mongering.”

Residents in the area have been quick to dismiss the story but Security Analyst Dr. Kwesi Aning insists the situation could even be worse and have cautioned national security to be vigilant.

Speaking to Joy News’ Dzifa Bampoh the Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah says government has done enough checks and is convinced no such militia group exists in the Western Region.

He said government is rather guarding against circumstances that will engender people to lure the youth to take up arms in the oil rich area.

“At the end of the day what will make militias thrive or give people with evil intentions the opportunity to lure young persons and co-opt them to form militias as we have seen in other parts of the world is to what extent we are able to manage the oil resources so that everybody benefits including the people of the Western Region. That is our safest cure to all of [these] reports of insecurity,” he said.

Here again a number of comments to the article are interesting.

There is no question the Western Region has been neglected. And there is poverty there, and the devastating lack of opportunity that accompanies poverty. But this story sounds like fear mongering with underlying political motives as well. And the security expert quoted may have his own political agenda. The words of the Deputy Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa sound a bit more politically expedient than informed. But then Joy News is owned by a strong opposition party supporter. I don’t know anything about Today, the source of the first article. The story of the militants may be a fear mongering political ploy.

Ghana’s National Security Coordinator, Gbevlo Lartey, is a tough no nonsense guy, and I’d be interested to know what he has to say on any such matter as this before forming an opinion.

Both the environment and the people in the gold mining areas have been ruthlessly exploited, and so far as I know there are no reports of insurgent militants in those areas. You can see some of the exploitation of the environment and the neglect of local citizenry in this photoessay Ghana Gold Not Benefiting its people !

You can also view more images of Cape Three Points from the photo gallery of Trinity School.

In the quest for biofuel plantations, and for export food crops, foreign countries and corporations are grabbing land, “using methods that hark back to the darkest days of colonialism” in Ghana and throughout Africa.

Foreign companies now control 37 percent of Ghana cropland. The spread of jatropha is pushing small farmers, and particularly women farmers off their land. Valuable food sources such as shea nut and dawadawa trees have been cleared to make way for plantations.

A total of 769,000 ha has been acquired by foreign companies such as Agroils (Italy), Galten Global Alternative Energy (Israel), Gold Star Farms (Ghana), Jatropha Africa (UK/Ghan), Biofuel Africa (Norway), ScanFuel (Norway) and Kimminic Corporation (Canada). According to the CIA World Fact Book Ghana has 3.99 million ha arable land with 2.075 million ha under permanent crops. This means that more than 37 percent of Ghana’s cropland has been grabbed for the plantation of jatropha.

Large-scale jatropha plantation with forest in background, Brong Ahafo region,Ghana. Photo by Laura German

What is worse in most cases the companies involved in the production of the biofuel import labour from outside the communities where production sites were located, and “there were drastic lay-offs as the project progressed from land preparation and planting stages.”

Friends of the Earth published Africa: up for grabs: The scale and impact of land grabbing for agrofuels PDF describing the problem throughout the continent. It contains maps and tables showing more detailed information about specific countries.

With its relatively stabile political situation and suitable climate, Ghana is an apparent hotspot for acquiring land to grow jatropha.

Harvesting jatropha in Ghana

Examples of land allocated reportedly for biofuel investments in Ghana:

FoE table of examples of land allocated reportedly for biofuel investments in Ghana (click to enlarge)

The following story from Ghana shows how the Europeans, often with the help of some government enablers, trick local communities into giving up their land. The company representatives imply they are bringing jobs and income, but do not contract in any way in which they can be held legally accountable to keep their promises. It is not just Europeans who are siezing land in Africa. The US, China, Brazil, and other countries are involved. In Ghana so far, most of the appropriated land has been taken over by Europeans.

Biofuel land grabbing in Northern Ghana PDF is the story of how a Norwegian biofuel company took advantage of Africa’s traditional system of communal land ownership and current climate and economic pressure to claim and deforest large tracts of land in Kusawgu, Northern Ghana with the intention of creating “the largest jatropha plantation in the world”.

Bypassing official development authorization and using methods that hark back to the darkest days of colonialism, this investor claimed legal ownership of these lands by deceiving an illiterate chief to sign away 38 000 hectares with his thumb print.

This is also the story of how the effected community came to realize that, while the promised jobs and incomes were unlikely to materialize, the plantation would mean extensive deforestation and the loss of incomes from gathering forest products, such as sheanuts. When given all the information the community successfully fought to send the investors packing but not before 2 600 hectares of land had been deforested. Many have now lost their incomes from the forest and face a bleak future.

Land stripped for biofuel production near Alipe, Northern Ghana.

Rural communities who are desperate for incomes are enticed by developers who promise them a “better future” under the guise of jobs with the argument that they are currently only just surviving from the “unproductive land” and that they stand to earn a regular income if they give up the land for development. This argument fails to appreciate the African view of the meaning of the land to the community. While the initial temptation to give up the land to earn a wage is great, it portends of an ominous future where the community’s sovereignty, identity and their sense of community is lost because of the fragmentation that the community will suffer.

The strategy for the acquisition of the land often takes the following course: The imaginations of a few influential leaders in the community are captured. They are told about prospects for the community due to the project and they were swayed with promises of positions in the company or with monetary inducements. The idea is that these people do the necessary “footwork” in the villages where they spread the word about job opportunities. A document is then prepared, essentially a contract, to lease the land to the company. In the event of problems the developer can press their claim by enforcing the ‘contract’ or agreement. When the legality of the process is not adequately scrutinized, the developers have their way but, subject to proper scrutiny, it emerges these contracts are not legally binding as they have not gone through the correct legal channels. This is what happened in this particular case in the Alipe area.

In this community, like in most parts of Ghana, over 80 percent of the land is held under communal ownership and more that 70 percent of this land is managed by traditional ruler-chiefs mainly on behalf the members of the their traditional areas. The chief was very categorical that he had not made such a grant and that he had also been battling with those “white people” to stop them – without much success. He confirmed that he “thumb printed” a document in the company of the Assemblyman of the area which had been brought to his palace by the “white people” but he did not confirm its contents.

The Chief was initially unwilling to go against the wishes of his people as his efforts to stop the developers were being interpreted by the community as driving away opportunities to earn an income during the current dry season”.

The facts began to emerge – a big fish in Government was promoting the project and had deployed his business associates in the Region to front for him. This front man was immediately employed as the Local Manager of BioFuel Africa. The EPA then insisted that they must go through the processes of having an Environmental Impact Assessment made. We then had a public consultative forum in the community where we had a face-to–face confrontation Mr. Finn Byberg, Director of Land Acquisition for BioFuel Africa in the village square in front of the Chief’s palace. The audience and judges were the village communities affected by the proposed project.

The Chief and his elders waiting to hear the presentations.


… the promises of jobs and a new improved life would not materialize because Mr Finn Byberg, the Chairman of BioFuel Africa confessed, during his presentation that he could not state categorically what commitments the company would make He said, “Commitments are not very easy and so when I am required to make these, I need to be very careful. I do not want to be caught for not keeping my word.”. … This made it clear that our land is being used for experimentation. Mr Byberg’s promise of jobs …were mere campaign gimmicks.

Most vocal indeed were the women at the session. Looking Mr Finn Byberg in the face a women asked, “Look at all the sheanut trees you have cut down already and considering the fact that the nuts that I collect in a year give me cloth for the year and also a little capital. I can invest my petty income in the form of a ram and sometimes in a good year, I can buy a cow. Now you have destroyed the trees and you are promising me something you do not want to commit yourself to. Where then do you want me to go? What do you want me to do?”

We need a more aggressive campaign to halt land grabbing. We need to engage with traditional rulers, District Assemblies and Politicians about this ominous phenomenon. We need visibility through print and electronic media to put our message across effectively to a wider audience. RAINS has a strategy to build on the rapport that it has developed through the OSIWA project with traditional rulers to open up another channel for engagement. We cannot afford to be caught unawares in this war with the biofuel companies. The ancestors are on our side and we shall win the war!

by Bakari Nyari, Vice Chairman of RAINS - Regional Advisory and Information Network Systems, Ghana, and Ghana and African Biodiversity Network Steering Committee member

At the same time, from the Friends of the Earth study:

Reports from India, however, indicate that yields of 1kg per plant have been difficult to achieve. Food Security Ghana is yet to hear of any commercially viable biofuel production from Jatropha, and it looks more and more as though the jatrophy frenzy is a big bubble waiting to burst.

The FoE report is indeed alarming if one considers that Ghana has allowed this massive land grab to take place in the absence of a biofuel policy and with no environmental impact studies undertaken – on the possible negative effects on both natural resources and on the communities – of huge jatropha plantations.

The report further states that proponents of agrofuels generally argue that agrofuel production will address the economic crisis facing many developing countries; they will create wealth and jobs and alleviate poverty.

According to the FoE these arguments overlook the other side of the story and leave many questions unanswered.

• Is the push for agrofuel production in the interest of the developing countries or are the real beneficiaries Northern industrialised countries?

• Will the production of agrofuels actually provide more jobs and enhance economic development at the community level?

• Will it address the issue of food insecurity plaguing the developing world?

• What are the social and environmental costs of agrofuel production to host communities?

• Who stands to benefit from the entire process?

The FoE concludes its report with the following:

  • “Hunger for foreign investment and economic development is driving a number of African countries to welcome agrofuel developers onto their land. Most of these developers are European companies, looking to grow agrofuel crops to meet EU targets for agrofuel use in transport fuel.
  • Demand for agrofuels threatens food supplies away from consumers for fuel in the case of crops such as cassava, peanuts, sweet sorghum and maize.
  • Non-edible agrofuel crops such as jatropha are competing directly with food crops for fertile land. The result threatens food supplies in poor communities and pushes up the cost of available food.
  • Farmers who switch to agrofuel crops run the risk of being unable to feed their families.
  • While foreign companies pay lip service to the need for “sustainable development”, agrofuel production and demand for land is resulting in the loss of pasture and forests, destroying natural habitat and probably causing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Agrofuel production is also draining water from parts of the continent where drought is already a problem
    .
  • While politicians promise that agrofuels will bring locally sourced energy supplies to their countries, the reality is that most of the foreign companies are developing agrofuels to sell on the international market.
  • Just as African economies have seen fossil fuels and other natural
    resources exploited for the benefit of other countries, there is a risk that
    agrofuels will be exported abroad with minimal benefit for local communities and national economies. Countries will be left with depleted soils, rivers that have been drained and forests that have been destroyed.”

The Government of Ghana announced that a biofuel policy will soon be introduced. Now is maybe the time for the people of Ghana to ask if the critical questions posed by the FoE have been addressed in the development of this policy.
from Food Security Ghana

________

September 17 from GhanaWeb: Tema fishermen halt sale of land, agricultural land is not the only land being seized by nationals from other countries.

About 200 fishermen and fishmongers Thursday resisted attempts to clear debris and erect a fencewall around a fish processing area near the Tema Canoe Beach.

The area was being cleared for the construction of a palm oil processing firm to be owned by Wilmor Edible Oil Refinery-Project (WEORP) a Singaporean firm.

The 64 hectare land was leased to the company by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).

The demonstrators wearing red arm bands and headgears singing traditional songs with the refrain “wo kpene ni ashishi wo,” to wit, “we will not allow them to cheat us,” stopped the bulldozer from preparing the ground and sealed holes dug up to erect pillars for the fencewall.

Rebecca Ashong, one of the fish processors, said she had been on the business for more than 15 years and had been supporting her family with proceeds from it and driving them out of the land will spell doom for them.

Wolenye Korkor Abo, said more than 2,000 people depended on the fish processing business for survival and displacing them will bring about untold hardship into the Tema Manhean community and asked government to take another look at it.

Nii Shippi Armah of the Tema Traditional Council wondered why the people of Tema would not be left alone to occupy this piece of land after so many acres of their land had been taken over by the State.

He said in 1959 when the construction of the Tema harbour and industrialisation of Tern a displaced the indigenous people, government resettled them at Tema Newtown.

In addition, government pointed the landing beach and this piece of land where our people could continue fishing processing their catch and mending nets as we did at our previous location.

He said “after almost 51 years of using the place, it has by convention and usage become ours“.

He said over 2,000 people were involved in the fish processing business in the area and it is from that they support their families and children’s education and sacking them would bring untold economic hardships. “We will, therefore, resist all attempts to displace us again,” he warned.

Nii Shippi Armah said a committee set up to study the implications of the project to the community was yet to present its report to the Tema Traditional Council.

And these sound like empty promises:

Mr, Asiedu said over the last five months it had been meeting the committee members and they had agreed that those affected by the project will be relocated and the cost paid by the project so that their livelihood were not destroyed.

He said for instance, “it had been agreed that a fish processing platform will be built across the road near the lagoon where business can be done in a more hygienic manner.”

He said a new 50 seater toilet facility will be provided to replace the 40 seater one which is currently located at the centre of the land.

Mr. Asiedu said the concerns of the community were being addressed and the construction of the project would be carried out alongside the relocation plan and, therefore, advised those affected by the project not to panic.

The project is expected to directly employ between 1,800 and 2,400 people.

The local fishing business already supports that many. Will the processing plant employ Ghanaians, or will it import labor? If Ghanaians will be relocated, the relocation spot should be prepared and ready before they move. Promises mean nothing. No one can live on promises. And why should these people be forced to move again?

I wish the fishermen and fishmongers of Tema much success in holding on to their land and livelihood. And I wish farming and working communities throughout Ghana success in holding on to their land. The dangers are wealthy, powerful, and growing. Local people need some help and support from their government. Government needs to provide this backing to stay legitimate. If you want people to vote for you, they need to see you are supporting their interests or they will vote you out. That just happened in Washington DC, where a mayor who repeatedly ignored and insulted a majority of his constituents, the people who had previously supported him, just lost his bid for reelection. It can happen in Ghana too. It is what a lot of Ghanaians were looking for in the presidential elections at the end of 2008.

________

Unfortunately, Fifteen fishmongers arrested.

________

The first part of this article was published, text only, on GhanaWeb on September 19.  You can read comments there.

Why do you bring your mistakes here?

Kofi Annan has joined with President Obama, Monsanto, AGRA, and the Gates foundation to promote and execute food aid that replaces bags of wheat, rice and corn (agricultural dumping) with bags of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds. The end result will be to starve people in Africa and feed corporations in the US and Europe.

Kofi Annan and farmers

Under the guise of “sustainability” the [Gates] Foundation has been spearheading a multi-billion dollar effort to transform Africa into a GMO-friendly continent. The public relations flagship for this effort is the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a massive Green Revolution project. Up to now AGRA spokespeople have been slippery, and frankly, contradictory about their stance on GMOs.

If you had any doubts about where the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is really placing its bets, AGRA Watch’s recent announcement of the Foundation’s investment of $23.1 million in 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock should put them to rest. Genetic engineering: full speed ahead. (Eric Holt-Gimenez)

If you have questions about Monsanto’s agenda, here it is in brief:

At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct. (Jeffrey M. Smith)

Monsanto: No food shall be grown that we don't own

Kofi Annan is Chairman of the Board of Directors for AGRA. He is convening a conference in Ghana in the first week of September. As detailed in this blog, and by others, both AGRA and USAID top positions are filled with people that come from Monsanto and Dupont.
Kofi Annan Calls For United Effort To Accelerate African Green Revolution

African heads of state, industry representatives, the international donor community and farmers will meet in Ghana at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in the first week of September. Delegates will create an action plan on the acceleration of a Green Revolution in Africa.

Samuel Amoako has reported on this as well: Kofi Annan Hosts Forum On Africa’s Food Security in the Ghanaian Times on August 11.

It is worrisome that Kofi Annan is connected with AGRA. Maybe he believes that US mechanized and chemical agriculture work well. Most people in the US do, aside from family farmers who see the effects first hand. I have a good friend who works for the US Dept. of Agriculture and thinks this kind of big agriculture really is the best and that Monsanto is a boon to mankind. We have had several heated discussions. In fact Monsanto is destroying land, causing chemically induced human diseases, creating super weeds, super insect pests, and economic havoc in many parts of the US farming areas, particularly in the midwest and the south. There have been countless protests all over India and Brazil. I’ve read many heartbreaking stories, including this comment from Pearl on this blog:

The farmers of southern Kentucky have been enslaved by Monsanto. The previous generation fell for an ad campaign called “Hi-bred” or “High-Bred”, and the current generation is stuck with fulfilling the contracts their fathers signed. The chemicals that Monsanto has contractually required be applied to those fields have so damaged the soil that the only way to get anything to grow in the fields now is to keep applying more of those blasted chemicals. So even if a person who inherited a contract WANTS to discontinue the agreement with Monsanto when the contract expires, they are unable to do so unless they want to leave the land fallow for many, many, many years. Most farmers cannot afford to do this, as this would mean little to no income for their families for somewhere between 5 to 20 years, depending on how long it would take for the soil to renew itself.

I’ve always had enormous respect for Kofi Annan, I do not understand his participation in this and it bothers me a great deal. Even though I admire and respect him there are no free passes with a subject like this.

Genetically modified crops produce less, not more, than conventional crops.

Alexis Baden-Mayer points out in Dupont, Monsanto, and Obama Versus the World’s Family Farmers that AGRA is basing its programs on myth:

Most of the world’s food is not produced on industrial mega-farms. 1.5 billion family farmers produce 75 percent of the world’s food.

The hunger problem is not caused by low yields. The world has 6 billion people and produces enough food for 9 billion people.

And as I’ve discussed before, the smaller the farm the greater the yield.

There is an inverse relationship between the size of farms and the amount of crops they produce per hectare. The smaller they are, the greater the yield.

In some cases, the difference is enormous. A recent study of farming in Turkey, for example, found that farms of less than one hectare are twenty times as productive as farms of over ten hectares(3). Sen’s observation has been tested in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, Java, the Phillippines, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay. It appears to hold almost everywhere. (Monbiot)

The key to true food security is food sovereignty, and the key to food sovereignty lies in who controls the land. The problems of both starvation and obesity stem from injustice in the way farmland and food are distributed. AGRA policies will poison the land and water, destroy local seeds and seed gene pools that provide the true hope for food sustainability. Local agriculture in most parts of the world has developed seeds that are tough and resistant to local pests, weeds, and local environmental dangers such as droughts or floods. AGRA wishes to replace these seeds with ones that need expensive, continuous, and ever expanding chemical coddling. These chemicals will poison the land, the water, and the people.

Additionally the Gates Foundation, Monsanto, and other corporate interests are investing in a doomsday seed bank, in which they will own the world’s agricultural gene pool. They are storing seeds from all over the world. In the event of genetic disaster, they will own the surviving gene pool.

Jonathan Weiner, in The Beak of the Finch describes how chemicals drive the destruction of land and the creation of super weeds and super insect pests:

Some of the greatest opposition to evolution comes from the farmers of the Cotton Belt, and that is where Taylor is seeing one of the most dramatic cases of evolution in action on this planet.

… in the year 1940, cotton farmers began spraying their fields with the chemical compound dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT. These first insecticidal sprays killed so many insects, and killed so many of the birds that ate the insects, that in biological terms the cotton fields were left standing virtually vacant, like an archipelago of newborn islands – and out of the woods and hedgerows fluttered [the cotton destroying moth] Heliothis virescens.

In the next few optimistic years, pesticide manufacturers assaulted Heliothis with bigger and bigger doses of DDT. They also brought out more poisons from the same chemical family: aldrin, chlordane. The aim was nothing less than the control of nature, and pesticide manufacturers believed that control was within their grasp. The annual introduction of new pesticides rose from the very first product, DDT, in 1940, to great waves of chemical invention in the 1960s and 1970s. In those decades, dozens of new herbicides and insecticides were brought to market each year. Heliothis became on of the most heavily sprayed species in what amounted to a biological world war. Through it all, the moths clung to the cotton.

… The moths have become almost absolutely resistant to all pesticides, from your cyclodienes to your organophosphates to your carbamates, and most of your pyrethroids. …

“Its an extraordinarily potent example of evolution going on under our eyes,” Taylor says. “Visible evolution.”

A pesticide applies selection pressure as surely as a drought or a flood. The poison selects against traits that make a species vulnerable to it, because the individuals that are most vulnerable are the ones that die first. The poison selects for any trait that makes the species less vulnerable, because the least vulnerable are the ones that survive longest and leave the most offspring. In this way the invention of pesticides in the twentieth century has driven waves of evolution in insects all over the planet. Heliothis is only one case in hundreds. (from pp 251-255)

In short, pesticides and herbicides destroy most of the insects, plants, and often other animals in those fields where they are used. But nature fights back. Those insects and weeds that can resist the chemicals initially, breed and grow stronger. They have no competition except from the chemicals, and they quickly evolve immunity, even as the chemicals become stronger and more toxic. Stronger and more toxic chemicals are needed to fight the new insects and weeds, and the destructive cycle continues. The chemicals wind up in the food, and run off into the land and the water, creating an ever increasingly toxic environment for humans and many other plants and animals.

For the growth of super weeds world wide, see the following charts:

The vertical axis shows the number of species of weeds that have become chemical resistant, the horizontal axis shows the years. You can see the exponential increase starting about 1970 when Monsanto introduced Roundup, and continuing into 2010. (click to enlarge)

You can see the distribution, North America, Western Europe, and Australia have already been severely impacted. Africa is a huge new market that has not yet been ruined. You can see why it is so desirable, it is a huge wide open opportunity to Monsanto and other greedy chemical corporations. Most countries in Africa have not yet been touched or biologically recolonized by GMOs and agricultural chemicals. South Africa, which has allowed GMOs, is the most severely impacted to date. (click to enlarge)

Genetically modified seeds, GMOs, are designed to be used as part of a program involving chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Their effect on farmers is usually to lock them into a cycle of debt, as described by Pearl above, and as experienced and protested in many countries including India and Brazil, as mentioned above. Terminator seeds, also known as suicide seeds or homicide seeds, will not regenerate, so instead of saving seeds, farmers have to buy new seeds each year, as well as investing in more, and more toxic chemicals each year that are necessary to make the GMO seeds grow. This cycle has created death and destruction in many places, including hundreds of farmer suicides in India.

I’ve heard that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that is certainly the case for the insects and weeds targeted by chemical pesticides and herbicides. Those that don’t die become very much stronger. We have already have super bugs and super weeds, thanks to the efforts of companies such as Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta. Evolution can move very fast, not just fast enough to observe, but fast enough to leave us humans struggling in its wake. Monsanto and the other agricultural chemical companies market each new product as though it is the end of some pest, that evolution stops at this point, and we can just relax. In fact each new chemical is the creator and the beginning of many more powerful threats. And the more powerful the chemical tools we use against these threats, the more those chemicals poison us and strengthen the insects and weeds we are fighting.

Although they have stopped talking much overtly about this, AGRA and the Gates Foundation speak about “land mobility” which means moving farmers off their farms so the land can be used for large scale mechanized agriculture. But there is no mention of where these people will go and live, and how they will be reemployed. What this means is thousands of displaced people moving to slums around the cities, which will grow and will be filled with unemployed people. This is politically and socially destabilizing. It breeds crime and political violence. This kind of policy also hits women particularly hard, because in western models such as corporate agriculture, their traditional rights to land are ignored. Women are the majority of agricultural workers, and will become even more impoverished and disenfranchised, not that it will bother AGRA or Gates or Monsanto, as they say:

Over time, this will require some degree of land mobility and a lower percentage of total employment involved in direct agricultural production.

Family farmers, who produce 75% of the worlds food, will gradually be displaced, driven off their land, and the land will be poisoned and ruined. There will be less food, less healthy food. More people will starve, while more corporations will get fat.

As Joan Baxter writes:

Back in the early 1990s when I was reporting from northern Ghana, an elderly woman farmer decided I would benefit from a bit of enlightenment. In a rather long lecture, she detailed for me the devastating effects that the Green Revolution – the first one that outside experts and donors launched in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s – had had on farmers’ crops, soils, trees and their lives. She said that the imported seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors, the instructions to plant row after row of imported hybrid maize and cut down precious trees that protected the soils and nourished the people – even the invaluable sheanut trees – had ruined the diverse and productive farming systems that had always sustained her people. When she finished, she cocked an eye at me and asked, with a cagey grin, ‘Why do you bring your mistakes here?

For more African farmers perspectives on this subject, see:

Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against A New Green Revolution In Africa PDF
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/voicesfromafrica/pdfs/voicesfromafrica_full.pdf

________

The first part of this article was published, text only, on GhanaWeb on September 13. You can read comments there.

The US goal with the annual Africa Endeavor is to become thoroughly embedded into African communication systems, making monitoring, spying or information/disinformation campaigns far easier for the US.

Africa Endeavor has been underway in Ghana this week and is just concluding.

ACCRA, Ghana - Ghanaian Brigadier General Joseph Searyho, Defence Communications Information Systems director general (5th from right) and Army Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM) C4 Systems director (Ferrell's left), pose for a photo with delegation chiefs from 28 African nations and Sweden during the Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 Mid-Planning Conferences in Accra, Ghana on March 31, 2010. AE is U.S. Africa Command's annual communications exercise that focuses on interoperability and information sharing among African nations. AE 2010 is scheduled to take place in Ghana, August 9-19, 2010. Past AE exercises were held in South Africa (2006), Nigeria (2008) and Gabon (2009). (Photo by Lieutenant James Stockman, U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs)

Thirty-six African countries, the AU, the Economic Community of Western African States, the Economic Community of Central African States, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States are participants in AE 2010

ACCRA, Ghana - Ghana Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General J.H. Smith (front, right) is escorted by Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 exercise director, U.S. Navy Commander Britt Talbert (front, left), U.S. Africa Command communications director, U.S. Army Brigadier General Robert Ferrell (middle, right), and U.S. Embassy Ghana Charge d’ Affaires, Julie Furuta-Toy (middle, left) as he reviews the AE 2010 exercise participants during a ceremony at the Ghana Command and Staff College in Accra August 9, 2010. AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the U.S., African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ACCRA, Ghana - Benin Army Lieutenant Firman Donadji (left), Gambia Army Lieutenant Bakary Sennah (center), and Benin Army Captain Farell Folly (right) prepare a Powerpoint presentation to instruct troops about Information Assurance (IA) during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 12, 2010. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)

On 8/13/2010 11:20:47 AM Captain Farell Folly of Benin wrote:

For me this is an amazing learning experience. I know the Information Assurance program that is being taught during this exercise. My job here is to teach other people. It is both an experience and a teaching environment. We can meet people from everywhere and get to share knowledge. Having help from other countries has helped us achieve our goal.

While at Africa Endeavor, I am responsible for people from many different nations. I have to plan how to get them working as a group. I have learned new leadership skills that I will take back with me to my country.

On 8/16/2010 3:00:09 PM Zambia Major Benedicto Kepiza wrote:

My impression of Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 is that it opens one’s eyes to modern trends in communications. It’s a wonderful experience that gets people to interact and share so much information. AE is important to me personally, because I have learned so much, especially from the resource personnel selected to conduct the lessons on various topics. They brought out certain aspects that helped me to understand the materials they presented even deeper. As Zambia we stand to benefit from AE in that the demonstrations about the new technology in communication equipment makes us aspire to acquire such equipment that can be useful to our country.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea for the US to invest the same or greater resources into building capacity in the civilian sector, training civilians for technology and leadership skills. Who is going to lead and govern countries in Africa?

I have heard and read a number of comments from participants in these Africa Command training programs very similar to what Captain Folly and Major Kepiza have to say. Ghanaians, and participants from a variety of countries have expressed similar enthusiasm. I am delighted they are able to participate and that the US training has been of so much value. My question is, how will these individuals apply these skills when they are dissatisfied with their governments? How will they apply their leadership and technological skills and networks?

All of us, in all the countries of the world, are dissatisfied with our governments at least some of the time. How will the governments where these trainees live cope with the challenges they face. Where will the civilian sector get the technological and leadership training? How will these governments cope with challenges arising from the expectations of their own military organizations? And what will the US government do when faced with coup governments created by their trainees and proteges? I think we can look at the recent elections in Kenya and Rwanda for clues.

ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Army Staff Sergeant Mohammed Babangida works with U.S. Marine Corp Lance Corporal Scott Marchewka to erect a broadband antennae at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 11, 2010. This antennae will be used to communicate with North African countries during Africa Endeavor (AE). (U.S. AFRICOM photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ACCRA, Ghana - Warrant Officer Julius Dzededzi, a Ghanaian Army medic, listens to the heartbeat of Ghana Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Agbeshie Agbemy during a routine check-up at Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 12, 2010. Dzededzi and Agbemy are supporting AE 2010 by providing medical care for all African countries participating in the exercise. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)

ACCRA, Ghana - U.S. Marine Corp Lance Corporal Scott Marchewka assists Lesotho Army Warrant Officer Knoabane Thamoe with the set-up of a Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) antennae used to practice radio exercises August 12, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Reesch)

ACCRA, Ghana - Benin Army Captain Farell Folly discusses information assurance (IA) tactics with U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Jason Elie during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra on August 10, 2010. Farell and Elie are part of the IA Working Group, which provides security for information used and shared as well as making sure there are no viruses in the network. The IA Working Group is composed of service members from Switzerland, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Sweden, and the United States. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)

ACCRA, Ghana - U.S. Brigadier General Robert Ferrell, U.S. Africa Command's communications director, watches as Republic of Congo Colonel Leon Ndingo is instructed by John M. Atkinson, Land Mobile Programs director for Inmarsat, on how to conduct a satellite call during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 on August 10, 2010, at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. The Republic of Congo is one of seven countries participating in AE 2010 for the first time. (Photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Jess Raasch)

AE 2010′s goal is to develop command, control and communications tactics, techniques and procedures that can be used by the African Union (AU) and the African Standby Force in support of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peace support missions.

AE 2010 participants will spend the initial days of this two-week exercise learning academics regarding voice and data networks theory and configuration. The last several days of AE 2010 will be spent applying that knowledge during exercise scenarios.

This year’s exercise will be the first time a communications link between the exercise location and the AU is established. Situation reports and messages pertaining to the scenario and exercise will be passed from Accra, Ghana to the AU Peace Support Operations Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“One of the Africa Union’s main objectives is to promote peace, security and stability on the continent. We need a united front to ensure this objective,” stated Ghana Minister of Defense Lieutenant General J.H. Smith. “Communications and information systems interoperability provide means for sharing of information across borders, which is very vital to the sustenance of the Africa Union and the African Standby Force.” (**)

If the only leadership you invest in is military leadership, if that is where you put all your money and effort, if that is what you train for, who do you expect will govern in the future? Whatever the case, the US military will be well and truly embedded in African communication systems.

ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Army Staff Sergeant Mohammed Babangida, with the assistance of U.S Marine Sergeants Ryan Kish and Brandon Sanders, establishes communications with U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk utilizing a Harris high-frequency radio during Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 in Accra on August 16, 2010. This marks the first time a radio call was attempted from the AE exercise site to an at sea vessel. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)

ACCRA, Ghana - Nigerian Staff Sergeant Mohammed Batangida, Nigerian Commander Eo Idor, Algerian Captain Kamel Rihani and Harris Corporation Applications Engineer Ian Dunsford work on the power supply for a high-frequency radio system during Africa Endeavor (AE) on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Accra. (U.S. Africa Command photo by Lieutenant Commander James Stockman)

ACCRA, Ghana - Djiboutian Lieutenant Siad Houssein (left), Republic of Congo 2nd Lieutenant Dodolphe Maxine Anicet Ockandji (center), and Cameroon Warrant Officer Ahmedon Souley (right) share personal stories while waiting for an Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 data collecting class on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)

ACCRA, Ghana - The Gambia Army Warrant Officer Momodue Fofana examines the communications equipment demonstrated by U.S. Marine Corp Sergeant Ryan Kish during an Africa Endeavor (AE) 2010 field expedient class on August 13, 2010 at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College. The class focused on methods of improvising antennas in the event of loss or damage. AE 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command sponsored initiative intended to encourage interoperability and information exchange among African nations via communication networks and subsequent collaborative links with the United States, African Union and other African partners with common stability, security and sustainment goals. (U.S. Africa Command photo by North Dakota Army National Guard Specialist Cassandra Simonton)

… when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making. – Obenfo

The United States (US) Government on Saturday, presented four speed patrol boats to the Ghana Navy, to help ensure maritime safety and security. – Sekondi, March 13, GNA

SEKONDI, Ghana - A group of Defender-class response boats perform maneuvers for a crowd at the naval base in Sekondi, Ghana, March 13, 2010, during a handover ceremony. The boats were donated to the Ghana Armed Forces by the U.S. Government. The event coincided with the visit of USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) to Sekondi as part of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty OFficer 2nd Class John Stratton)

Ms Julie Furuta-Toy, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Ghana presented certificates on the boats to Lieutenant-General Joseph Henry Smith (rtd), Minister of Defense, at a ceremony at the Western Naval Command in Sekondi.

Lt-General Smith thanked the US Government for the gift, which he said is an expression of the cordial relationship between the two countries and hoped the friendship between the two countries would be further strengthened. He spoke of the economic, social and security assistance the country has received from US government over the years, saying that, Ghana had received security assistance such as the International Military Education and Training (IMET) and the African Contingency Training Assistance (ACOTA) programmes.

Lt-General Smith said USS Gunston Hall; a US Naval is presently berthed at the Western Naval Command for the 2010 Africa Partnership Training Programme. He said the government is committed to equipping the Ghana Navy, to play a pivotal role in the protection of the countries maritime resources, especially fisheries stock and the oil find. He said steps were being taken to complete the Slipway and the Test bench Projects at the Sekondi Naval Dockyard to enhance fleet maintenance and ensure availability of ships to perform assigned roles.

Miss Furuta-Toy said the four boats are meant to augment three defender boats presented to the Ghana Navy in October 2008. She said the US is proud of its multi-national military partnerships, and that from 2008 to 2009, five West and Central African Countries received 17 identical defender class boats.

The USS Gunston Hall on which the patrol team will be travelling

The US African Partnership Station, currently led in West Africa by the USS Gunston Hall has been engaged in training missions. Sammy Darko, one of the Ghanaian reporters hosted by the US Africa Command in its Stuttgart headquarters, was on board the USS Gunston Hall and a witness to the training. It looks like he is an embedded reporter in the way the US military has used reporters in the US media. He writes for JoyFM, myjoyonline.com:

The United States Africa Command is collaborating with the Ghana navy to patrol the country’s high seas.

The naval commands say the surveillance has become necessary to check increasing illegal activities such as drug trafficking, fishing and dumping of waste along the West coast.

The project will also involve training for Ghana’s Navy and logistical support.

Joy FM’s Sammy Darko will be on the patrol ship and he believes the trip will be a challenging one.

Expectations

The capacity of the Ghana Navy is soon expected to be boosted to a level where they can ward off most illegal activities on the high seas.

In recent times, concerns have been raised about the country’s inability to combat drug traffickers, illegal fishing and dumping of waste on the high seas.

That is because the Navy lacks the equipment and required skills to do so.
But the US Africa Command is hoping to reverse the trend with its African partnership station.

Pirates on high seas

The object of this program is to improve maritime safety and security on the African continent.

Under the program, officers of the Ghana Navy will be given professional training and provided with some logistics to aid in patrol offshore.

For instance, under this exercise the US has given Ghana four defender class boats for surveillance. These are fast speed boats attached to a vessel to chase out criminals on the high seas.

The training is considered crucial as the nation prepares to sell its oil in commercial quantities in the last quarter of this year.

So for the next eight days, my job on this trip will be to observe and if possible, assist in the arrest of criminals.

Mr. Darko has a unique opportunity. I hope he learns much from his chance to observe. In another article from March 2010 in his blog he writes:

Seventeen Ghanaian Navy officers and sailors are receiving training on how to secure the nations maritime boundary on a US naval ship currently on sail on the gulf of Guinea.

Also onboard the ship are navy officers from other West African countries. The idea is to pull together synergy on how to check insecurity on the African waters in recent times.

The training is being organized by the United States naval forces Africa and its partners under a program code named African partnership station.

The reporter is currently onboard the USS Gunston hall currently enroute to Sao Tome and Principe to deliver some items. It will take us roughly four days to get there.

To give you an idea about the ship I am on, picture two football fields put together, that is how big this ship is.

It is a well equipped vessel. Inside this ship are several lecture halls where naval officers from Ghana and other West African countries are undergoing tutorials on a wide range of maritime courses with emphasis on professional development, respond capabilities, and infrastructural development.

Some of the students tell me the lessons have been very useful. ” I have learnt how to administer first aid to any of my offers if they were to suffer injury- A ghanaian naval officer said”.

For the next seven days, trainees are expected to also undergo practical training as we sail to Sao Tome and back to Tema.

There is no question that both the training and equipment are useful and much needed in Ghana. The drug trade plus trade in other contraband, the illegal fishing and dumping are a plague on Ghanaian shores and all African shores. The US military is actively targeting Africa. With a seabase, the US may have the equivalent of a base in Ghana, without an actual land base. All the arrows point to Africa in the USMC map of the future global security environment pictured below. You can read the planning and the rational in the text on the graphic, also reprinted below. Of course a great deal of US policy is exacerbating these problems rather than helping resolve them, as discussed in many contexts over several years on this blog.

The text reads:
Future Security Environment (PDF p.3)
“Hybrid” Threats &
Challenges …
Largely in the Littorals
ARC OF INSTABILITY
• Nuclear armed states
• Top ten oil reserves
• Significant drug regions
• Anti-West attitudes
• Increasing Global Interdependence
• Emerging Global Powers
• Improved anti-access weapons
• “Haves” vs “Have Nots”
The “asymmetrical kind of war” we face today will last at least two decades…

The African Partnership Station is an active part of the seabase concept The original of the above graphic is at Seabasing Concepts and Programs PDF, but it may not be possible to connect from IP addresses outside the US. As you can see from the words along the bottom, they are preparing for a war they expect to last at least 2o years. As has been discussed on this blog many times, in respect to many countries, much of this war will be self fulfilling prophecy, the result of militarization: training, and arming the continent. The US sees sea basing as the way to use its military to police and control the world, and particularly the oil and other resources it covets from Africa. And because the US military is overextended, they will be using military contractors for a lot of this arming and training activity, making them even less accountable.

The US appears to have given up on putting an Africa Command headquarters in Africa. At present it looks likely to stay in Stuttgart, or move to the continental United States. With seabasing, the Africa Command does not need a land base in Africa. It can bring an immense base offshore of any country with a coastline. So you may:

Imagine a future where the people of countries at odds with U.S. policies suddenly find America’s “massive seaborne platforms” floating just outside their territorial waters.

Ghanaians remain smart and skeptical, from the five comments at myjoyonline, two comments are simply grateful for the equipment. The other three follow:

US-Ghana Navy
Posted By: Piorgah Tetteh , 3/18/2010 1:01:42 PM
So finally, the US Africom is using diversionary tactics to invade the continent. They failed to set up a base here and are now coming under the pretext of partnership to operate. The US will go to any length to poke its nose in people’s business. Sake of this small oil wey we find…
Azaa Amerika. Atta Mill, shine your eyes.

Yankee Go Home
Posted By: ObibiNIBAKOJO , 3/18/2010 5:41:44 PM
Ghanaman ,the US has double standards and hidden motives…warn president mills and the Ghana Navy…Look at this illegal drugs…the most drugs are here in the US and the Carribean route ……don’t let this stupid marines fool you…Ghanaman.

USA IN GHANA? am sad!!!¬!!
Posted By: ab , 3/19/2010 4:26:09 PM
USA oooooh? am supprised they are here too. is because of the oil oooooh Ghana. very soon we will start fight over the oil and they will start selling guns to us at the exchange of oil. USA. is our leaders really reading between two lines at all.
why allowed this people here. my heart is bleeding seriously

The article at GhanaWeb about the donated boats has 42 comments and the majority are skeptical of this military gift, or at the very least are skeptical about US motives, many wonder what he payback will be. Here are a few:

Author: the truth
those are the two agendas for the United state in ghana. africom or oil and i hope god willing our foolish leaders be smart and stay away from the United State. else we are doomed

Author: Obenfo
… apart from food and other humanitarian aid to victim nations of natural disasters, nothing really goes out of the US free without satisfying the American interest.
It is strange why Africans expect things free. I think it’s about time we Africans understand that when somebody gives you a gift, the purpose is mostly to compromise your decision making.
My friends, nothing is free in America
so why should Africans expect something free from America without giving back anyting in return?
Most often, it is more dangerous to recieve gifts without a clear cut condition than those with clearly stated conditions, in that sense you can negotiate well and once you meet those conditions you become free.

Author: KOLA,LONDON MAIN
US have been sharing gifts with the Sekondi Naval Base since time immemorial.
Training and development exchange programmes have existed between the two countries as well but it doesn’t mean we should sell Ghana to the US …

Author: girls sp
africa command in ghana. mmmm. us naval base in ghana.

The following is a huge graphic that portrays the entire global seabasing concept. There are humanitarian activities that are part of this concept, but they are there to serve the military objective. Acronyms from this graphic are listed below.

Seabase Overview - Joint Seabasing Responsive Scalable National Power Projection (this is a very large graphic, you may need to click more than once and scroll around to read it all)

acronyms from the graphic:
CSG Carrier Strike Group
ESG Expeditionary Strike Group
GFS Global Fleet Station
HA/DR Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
MAGTF Marine Air Ground Task Force
MARDET Marine Detachment
MCO Major Combat Operation
MPF(F) Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future)
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
NEO Noncombatant Evacuation Operations
SOF Special Operations Forces
SPMAGTF Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force

Ghana’s Western neighbor Ivory Coast is reportedly laying claims to portions of the huge oil wealth in the deep waters of the Western Region.

Map with Dzata oil field and Jubilee field off Cape Three Points Ghana (click to enlarge)

In a move to save the situation, Ghana has begun an urgent move to pass a new law that seeks to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate Ghana’s land boundaries and de-limit Ghana’s maritime boundaries.

The news of Ivory Coast’s claim to parts of Ghana’s oil fields comes just days after United States operator Vanco struck oil in the deep-water Dzata-1 well, off Ghana’s Cape Three Points near Ivory Coast, further boosting the oil wealth in Ghana’s booming offshore Tano basin.
However the Hon Collins Dauda said he is confident Ghana and Ivory Coast will be able to resolve the matter without any conflict due to the good relations between the two countries. (GhanaWeb)

I surely hope the Hon. Collins Dauda is correct.

[UPDATE: Added March 5, from MyJoyOnline, see below for the rest of the article
Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.]

The Vanguard tells us:

Industry sources say the crude found off Ghana is of a quality even easier to refine than the light, sweet crude found in Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producers.

Revenue derived from oil will be invested in the national power supply, with improvements to the road network and water supply, construction of a deep sea oil port and revamping railway lines, Atta-Mills said.

“These projects will not only create significant employment themselves but will also support the growth of other industries,” he told the parliamentarians

My Joy Online has a bit more detail on the dispute:

Head of Research at the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Centre, Dr Kwesi Aning, says Ivory Coast’s claim to portions of Ghana’s oil fields exemplifies “a failure of the state institutions to protect our national interest.”

Dr Aning said there is a general lack of seriousness in ensuring the country’s boundaries are protected.

Ivory Coast has sent the government of Ghana a correspondence expressing outright disrespect for an existing “median line” that divides the two countries.

The Francophone country consequently served the United Nations with a similar correspondence saying it does not respect a temporary boundary between the two countries.

The Ghana Government is expecting Parliament to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda told the Super Morning Show on Thursday.

“A national boundaries commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” he said.

Dr Aning said the bill must be given a strong bi-partisan urgency to ensure that the country derives the most out of its oil resource.

The security expert is also recommending a solid technical documentation studied by lawyers with expertise on petroleum matters.

Diplomatic implications

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister says the emerging claim from Ivory Coast for portions of the oil fields in the Western Region is a very delicate matter.

Collins Dauda said the issue has serious international and diplomatic repercussions.

“We have not been able, as a country, to determine our boundary with Ivory Coast and there is the need for us to now determine the maritime boundary between Ghana and Ivory Coast,” he said.

Mr Dauda however said both countries have, for years, respected “a median line” between them that cannot be trespassed.

“All of a sudden, with the oil find, Ivory Coast is making a claim that is disrespecting this median line we have all respected. In which case we would be affected or the oil find will be affected,” he said.

Baseless claim

The Lands and Natural Resources Minister said the claim by Ivory Coast is baseless.

This, according to him, is because the claim by the Francophone country is rather parallel to certain internationally acceptable standards of determining maritime boundaries.”

Collins Dauda said, last year, Ghana appealed to the United Nations to extend its maritime boundary by 200 nautical miles.

As a precondition, the UN directed the country to negotiate boundaries with its neighbours, he disclosed.

Disrespect for ‘median line’

The latest turn of events may even be more surprising as Ivory Coast has already sent a correspondence to the Republic of Ghana, expressing disrespect for the median line the two countries have agreed upon for years.

Consequently, Ivory Coast has made a submission to the United Nations laying claim to portions of the Ghana’s oil find.

Drilling on the Dzata-1 well began almost a year ago, the map and photo, above and below, accompany this article from April 2009:

ACCRA, Ghana–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Government of the Republic of Ghana, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Vanco Ghana Ltd. and LUKOIL Overseas Ghana Ltd., signed a new Petroleum Agreement, covering the Cape Three Points Deepwater block. This agreement will replace the existing Petroleum Agreement which expires at the end of April 2009. The new agreement provides Vanco and LUKOIL with the opportunity to continue the exploration of the area, during which new 3D seismic and additional drilling activities are planned. The new agreement also provides GNPC and the government of Ghana with significant commercial benefits, including higher royalty and increased GNPC participation. The new Petroleum Agreement also gives ownership of Associated Gas to the State.

The Aban Abraham drillship mobilized to Ghana to drill the Dzata Prospect. (Photo: Business Wire)

The Cape Three Points Deepwater block encompasses an area of 5,146 square kilometers in water depths ranging from 200 to 3,000 meters in the Tano Basin. Vanco (Operator) holds a 28.34% participating interest in the Cape Three Points Deepwater block with LUKOIL holding a 56.66% participating interest. GNPC, the state oil company, holds a 15% carried interest, with the option to acquire up to an additional 5% in any commercial discovery.

The new agreement comes as the Aban Abraham deepwater drillship departs Cape Town, South Africa after completing final retrofit operations to enable the unit to drill in water depths of up to 2,000 meters. The Aban Abraham will mobilize to Ghana to commence the Dzata-1 exploratory well by the end of April 2009.

Situated in 1,874 meters (6,148 feet) water depth, the Dzata Prospect is a large anticlinal structure with numerous Upper and Lower Cretaceous potential reservoir horizons and distinct direct hydrocarbon indicators, including flat spots and a “gas chimney.” The well will be drilled to a total depth of approximately 4,786 meters, or 2,912 meters below the mud line.

“The Aban Abraham drilling unit is finally ready to drill this exciting prospect where we are hopeful of a significant discovery,” says Vanco President, Gene Van Dyke. “Vanco and LUKOIL appreciate the assistance and support of GNPC and the Ministry of Energy in completing the new Petroleum Agreement which will allow the partnership to continue the aggressive exploration of the Cape Three Points Deep Water block.”

Vanco is a leading deepwater independent with activity in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and the Ukrainian Black Sea.

——–

Added March 5:

Dzata 1 oil well is within Ghana’s boundary – Vanco Oil

The Chief Operating Officer of Vanco Limited, J.L Mitchell, operators of the Dzata- 1 Well, located offshore Ghana, in the Tano basin of the Cape three points Deep Water Block, has told Citi News that their block is well within the maritime boundaries of Ghana.

According to him, Vanco has no concern at all over reports that neighboring Ivory Coast is making claims for some parts of Ghana’s maritime Boundary.

The Dzata 1 discovery is the latest in addition to the Jubilee and other oilfields where significant hydrocarbons have been found.

There are speculations that the Dzata 1 discovery which is close to the Ivory Coast boundary may be a contributory factor to Cote D’Ivoire’s claims.

But Mr Mitchell told Citi News from his base in the US that that may not be the case since the Dzata Well is over 200 kilometers away from Ghana’s maritime boundary with cote-d’Ivoire.

“It’s very far; 200 kilometres away from the maritime boundaries and it doesn’t affect us one way or the other…It is well within the Ghanaian maritime boundary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Security Analyst Dr Kwesi Aning says Ghana must take a firm stance as it seeks to enter negotiations with the Ivorians and desist from using the humanitarian approach.

“More often than not, when these problems arise, there is a certain naivety on the Ghanaian side, a certain humanitarian approach, saying we are all brothers and all that – we are not brothers”.

“The Ivorians have a rationale choice attitude to this, they have made their calculations and they are willing to push this demand as far as possible to get what they want and I think it’s crucial that this bill is passed under the certificate of urgency and hopefully, the team that will be put together should be a bi-partisan group of technical experts with the requisite knowledge to ensure that this issue does not become a problem.” He told Citi FM.

He hinted that the Ivorians are better structured and coordinated; making them miles ahead of Ghana as far as the struggle for the demarcation is concerned

He, therefore, advised Government to ensure the passage of the law immediately and provide the requisite resources for a bi-partisan group to promote Ghana’s interest in the matter.

Dr Aning warned that if the right steps are not taken to deal with the situation immediately, Ghana and Ivory Coast may replicate the conflict that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroun over the Bakassi peninsula.

France may support Ivory Coast in Dzata oil debacle – Fellow
By Citifmonline.com | Fri 05th March, 2010 12:55 GMT

A Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs, Dr Ken Ahorsu says the current scramble between Ghana and its neighbor Ivory Coast over the Dzata oil well is not irresolvable.

He has warned however that the French Government could support Ivory Coast against Ghana in the eventuality that the issue blows up beyond the sub-region.

He says the situation could be handled satisfactorily to avert a repeat of the Bakassi Peninsula incident as pertained between Cameroon and Nigeria.

Dr Ahorsu told Citi News that the African Union must first come into the fray before the matter is taken to other international platforms if possible. Ivory Coast has already made a complaint to the UN laying claim to the Dzata well discovered by Vanco oil recently in the Cape Three point fields.

“Ghana really has to do its home work because the Francophone countries have a very firm supporter in France. If you follow the court ruling of the Bakassi Penninsula between Nigeria and Cameroon, internationally everybody believed that France had a huge role to play that influenced the final outcome.

“I don’t want to suspect but I have this uneasy feeling that Ivory Coast might have started stirring the International waters, given the knowledge that they believe they have a supporter in the International system but…I have looked at it from the internet, I have looked at where the new oil is found by Vanco and I don’t think it’s within Ivorian waters.” He said.

According to him, the Government of Ghana has done the right thing by putting together a Border Commission to deal with the issue. Dr Ahorsu believes delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the two countries should not be a difficult task to carry out.

Vanco Ghana dismisses threat to Ghana’s find
Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Petroleum exploration firm, Vanco Ghana Limited, has dismissed suggestions that its oil field in the Western Region is at the centre of a possible boundary dispute between Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

The company says its oilfield, known as Gyata 1, is so far away from the maritime boundary between the two countries that it cannot be the subject of any dispute.

Country manger of Vanco Limited, Kofi Afenu, says the Ivorian authorities are only seeking negotiations with Ghana over the Jubilee oilfield, which is owned by Kosmos.

Several miles away

“The distance between the boundary line and then the Gyata 1 well is more than 200 miles…quite far,” Mr Afenu told Joy News’ Sammy Darko.

The Vanco country manager is amazed at news making the rounds in some sections of the media that Ivorian authorities are demanding portions of Ghana’s oilfield.

According to him, the closest well to the Ivorian border is the Jubilee field which is some 60 miles away.

Under no circumstance will Ivory Coast lay claim to the Gyata 1 well which is several miles away, Mr Afenu indicated.

Confusion

The media may have blown the issue out of proportion or perhaps the minister sent the wrong impression to Ghanaians that Ivory Coast is demanding a portion of Ghana’s oil fields.

The facts as discovered by the Myjoyonline.com indicate the Ivorian authorities are only calling for a negotiation of the maritime border between the two countries.

La Cote d’Ivoire has not laid claim to any portion of Ghana’s maritime space, authorities indicate.

Meanwhile, Parliament is expected to quickly deliberate on a bill that would establish a boundary commission to negotiate Ghana’s maritime boundaries with Ivory Coast and other neighbouring countries.

The Ghana Boundaries Commission Bill has been sent to Parliament under a certificate of urgency, Lands and Natural Resources Minister Collins Dauda has said.

“A National Boundaries Commission will be put in place that would engage our neighbours in La Cote d’Ivoire with a view of negotiating our maritime boundary between ourselves and our brothers in Ivory Coast,” Mr Dauda said.

A map of the area in contention shows no part of Ghana’s oil field is in danger of a seizure.

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.

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.

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Akosombo Dam photo from marantzer on Flickr.

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