Oil falls as spreading Coronavirus convulses markets worldwide

Oil tumbled for a third session as panic over the spreading coronavirus gripped investors Oil tumbled for a third session as panic over the spreading coronavirus gripped investorsOil tumbled for a third session as panic over the spreading coronavirus gripped investors and sent shockwaves through commodity, equity and debt markets.Futures slumped as much as 2.1% in New York on Tuesday. As the contagion that emerged in China spread through other parts of Asia as well as the Middle East and Europe, the outlook for economic growth that underpins fuel demand darkened. Stock markets plunged as investors fled to safe havens such as gold and American government bonds.”The market has woken up to the fact the virus could have a global economic impact,” said Frances Hudson, global thematic strategist at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “Projections of demand are all on the gloomy side of negative and this a demand-led market.”The slump in demand and prices comes as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers prepare to meet in Vienna early next month. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the group hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to extend or modify production cuts.West Texas Intermediate for April delivery fell 60 cents to $50.83 a barrel at 10:39 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange.Tuesday’s decline brought the three-session slump to more than 6%.Brent for April settlement fell 63 cents to $55.67 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Ghanaian publishers and bloggers invited to benefit from GhanaWeb’s technology

GhanaWeb and other subsidiaries are run on the AfricaWeb Solutions technology GhanaWeb and other subsidiaries are run on the AfricaWeb Solutions technologyAfricaWeb Holding, publishers of GhanaWeb.com, has called on Ghanaian publishers and bloggers to take advantage of its technological innovations to develop their websites and increase revenue.The company’s AfricaWeb Solutions services for publishers and advertisers boasts of a specifically tailored technology for the African market which is optimized for slower internet speeds in Africa.“GhanaWeb is ready to share its technological innovation with other publishers through our AfricaWeb Solutions services for publishers,” said Marc Stubbé, Chief Executive Officer of AfricaWeb Holding.AfricaWeb Solutions cover technology and monetization services that include publishing technology with a different back-end and CMS for both desktop and mobile. It assures safety against hackers, reliability and stability as to uptime, ability to deal with peak traffic, faster loading time, specific tools for publishing content and managing editorial teams and more pageviews among other benefits.GhanaWeb and other subsidiaries are run on the AfricaWeb Solutions technology which have placed the portal at the topmost position in Ghana and Africa. GhanaWeb is ranked third in Ghana after Google and YouTube and it is ranked the most popular news website in the country.Among the beneficiaries of Google’s Digital News Initiative (GNI) is Ghana’s first and most popular news portal, GhanaWeb, which has won the first Google News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge for its novel GhanaWeb Reporter project which will inject new ideas into the global news ecosystem.The GhanaWeb Reporter is an application for both Android and iOS devices that enables GhanaWeb’s 4 million monthly unique visitors to (re)publish their user-generated content (UGC) directly on www.ghanaweb.com.The content will be screened and published on a personal or topic page on the website or as a news or opinion article when it meets the required editorial guidelines. This novelty will amplify the voices of Ghanaians on the issues that matter to them. “Technology is key in online publishing and the GhanaWeb Reporter makes it possible to create and engage a big Ghanaian community that will interact on our platforms rather than to attract visitors that passively absorb news items. “We will invite influencers, bloggers and journalists to become part of the community of GhanaWeb – the basic thought is that we share the benefit,” said Marc Stubbé, Chief Executive Officer of AfricaWeb Holding.GhanaWeb’s success necessitated the founding of AfricaWeb Holding which has birthed CamerounWeb.com, TanzaniaWeb.com, MyNigeria.com and other country-specific portals to help develop viable independent news portals in Africa.About GhanaWebGhanaWeb is the first vertical portal in Ghana and the first news website for the country relaunched in 1999 to offer news, background information, classifieds, radio stations and a social network for Ghanaians and the Diaspora among others.The privately-owned independent and objective portal operates under the laws of the Netherlands, a legal setup that has allowed Ghanaians to express themselves freely through opinion articles and comments in over two decades.Made for and by Ghanaians, GhanaWeb is updated by a team of editors and journalists who write original content and aggregate articles from a wide range of Ghanaian print and online media ensuring a balanced coverage of the news in Ghana.GhanaWeb has evolved over the years to include video content and social media components to its news feed for a smooth web navigation. Its team of web developers and web designers regularly improve the technology and design of the portal which has been built to meet the requirements of its 4 million unique visitors each month.According to the Alexa website traffic statistics, GhanaWeb is very popular among Ghanaian migrants in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Netherlands, France and many other countries.These loyal visitors and the millions of readers in Ghana have made GhanaWeb the most popular news website in Ghana and ranked the third most visited website in the country after Google and YouTube.GhanaWeb’s success necessitated the founding of AfricaWeb Holding which has birthed CamerounWeb.com, TanzaniaWeb.com, MyNigeria.com and other country-specific portals to help develop viable independent news portals in Africa.

Today in 2016: GRA intercepts $18m gold bullion at KIA

File photo File photoCustoms Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), four years ago, seized a gold bullion worth $18 million at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).The seized item was meant to be transported to India and Dubai, Daily Guide reported.The operation was carried out upon a tip-off that 12 boxes were arranged for export to the above-mentioned destinations by two Indian firms and three Ghanaian companies. Read the story orginally published in 2016 by Daily Guide belowA gold bullion weighing 480 kilogramme valued at $18 million and bound for India and Dubai was at the weekend intercepted at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).The bullion was discovered among some 12 boxes being arranged for export to the afore-mentioned destinations by two Indian firms and three Ghanaian companies upon a tip-off.Officials of the Accra-based AA Minerals Limited – the only licensed private gold buying company in Ghana – allegedly connived with their colleagues at BGC International, K.K Enterprises, Italtec Ghana Limited and Guldrest Resources to illegally transport the gold out of the country.The gold were without declaration and proper documentation.The incident has heightened further suspicions of the enormity of smuggling and under-declaration in the country’s mineral sector.According to customs officials, exporting gold without any documentation is a daily occurrence at the Kotoka International Airport, adding that a lot of licensed gold exporters in the country took part in such deals to eschew paying suitable taxes.The Bank of Ghana, in 2015, noted that a total of $3.2 billion worth of gold was exported from Ghana by both large and small-scale miners.About $979.6 million worth of gold arrived in India from Ghana between 2014 and 2015, India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, reveals.That involved the shipment of a total of 34,000 kilogram of gold by small-scale miners in Ghana.A directive by the Bank of Ghana to check the occurrence has been met with stiff opposition from licensed gold exporters, who in turn have secured an injunction to stall the Central Bank from carrying out its work.In September 2015, Bank of Ghana directed that all gold exports by licensed exporters should be made through the Precious Minerals Marketing Company.

AGI, COCOBOD partner to train cocoa product makers

COCOBOD logo COCOBOD logo The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is collaborating with the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) – the research arm of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) – to train Ghanaian business entrepreneurs, mostly startups, in the manufacturing of cocoa products. The cocoa products include chocolate, cocoa butter as well as harnessing the potentials in the pod husks industry since CRIG research indicates that the pod can commercially be processed to produce a variety of value-added products that are capable of earning the country some direly needed foreign exchange inflows. The training is expected to enable the business community take optimal advantage of opportunities in the cocoa sector created by the operationalization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area set for July this year with chocolate products set to be the major driver. The global chocolate market is estimated to be worth around US$110 billion and is projected to surpass US$161.56 billion in revenues generated by 2024, gas the industry is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of around 7.0 percent in terms of volume. Africa produces about 75 percent of the total global cocoa production, yet it has only five percent of the entire chocolate market whereas Switzerland and Belgium – the world’s top two producers of chocolate – reportedly earn around US$14 billion and US$12 billion respectively from export of chocolate annually. Owing to the increasing demand and preference for cocoa products, coupled with the vast potential benefits the market offers, stakeholders have indicated that there is the need to institute effective mechanisms to enable the business community take full advantage. In the processing of cocoa beans for the market, the pod husk, bean pulp juice and the placenta, which constitute 66 percent, 4 percent and 10 percent respectively of the fruit are traditionally discarded as waste. Research carried out at CRIG have demonstrated that the wastes could be processed into commercially useful products such as animal feed, wine, vinegar and jam among other products. Ghana’s chocolate sold to the global market in 2018 stood at US$32.1 million. This is a huge increase on the revenues gotten from the product in 2015, 2016 and 2017 at US$33,320, US$1,435,613 and US$16,806,703 respectively.

GRA rolls out strategic plan to increase tax revenue

Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has rolled out a three year strategic plan to rake in more revenue for the state. In what is also expected to expand Ghana’s tax base, it has set a target to increase the contribution of taxes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the current 13.2 per cent to 17.5 per cent by the year 2022.As a result, it intends to increase the tax contribution by two per centage point each year to meet its target. The acting Commissioner-General of the GRA, Mr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah, announced this in a speech read on his behalf at the Ghanaian-German Economic Association (GGEA) forum last Wednesday on the theme “Ghana’s Economic Outlook for the year 2020”. Specific strategies In explaining further how the GRA?intends to meet its target, Mr Owusu-Amoah said the authority was taking steps to enable businesses and individuals pay their taxes through the banks and the various mobile money platforms. He explained that the initiative would relieve taxpayers of the burden of joining long queues at tax offices to honour their tax obligations. On moves to increase domestic tax collections, the Assistant Commissioner of the GRA, Mr Joseph Oduro-Yeboah, indicated that the GRA this year intends to increase compliance level from 60 per cent to 90 per cent, adding that the GRA would embark on a mass campaign on various media platforms to sensitise the public. “We want to ensure that everybody who is supposed to pay taxes do so and if they do not pay, the necessary sanctions will be imposed so we are looking at making sure that a lot of people come into the tax net this year and beyond,” he added. Mr Oduro-Yeboah noted that aside the Tax Identification Number (TIN), the GRA was also exploring options of introducing a Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) to indicate that one has performed his or tax obligation. He further explained that without the (TCC), one would not be able to access a public facility. “Introducing such initiatives would help us achieve our targets,” he said, Ghana’s Economic Outlook In a speech read on his behalf, the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta said Ghana’s GDP growth had increased from 3.4 per cent in 2016 to 6.3 per cent in 2018 and 6.2 per cent in 2019, adding that fiscal deficit had reduced from 6.5 per cent in 2016 to 4.8 per cent as at the end of 2019. “We are currently leveraging on strategic partnerships and addressing challenges in the business environment to increase trade and rake-in more private investments to consolidate the gains made so far,” he stated He further called on the business community to take advantage of the opportunities available in the country to pool resources together in order to consolidate Ghana’s gains in the area of trade cooperation. The forum, which is an initiative of the GGEA, is a series of dialogues that feature selected topics and is aimed at influencing government policies in favour of businesses. It brought together players in the private sector, policy makers and people from government to deliberate on the Ghanaian business environment. This year’s forum had speakers such as the President of the GGEA, Mr Stephen Antwi, Tax expert with KPMG, Mr Kofi Frempong-Kore among other speakers.

Daily Graphic Editorial: After raising another Eurobond, what next?

Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister Barely a week ago, the government successfully raised $3 billion in Eurobonds. The bonds were issued in three tranches, with the following terms: $750 million for a 7-year bond issued at 7.875 per cent; $1,250 million for a 12-year bond issued at 8.125 per cent, and US$1,000 million for a 31-year bond issued at 8.950 per cent. Many reasons might have accounted for the massive show of interest in Ghana’s bond, but primarily the achievement, according to the managers of the economy, was possible because of the country’s strong macroeconomic performance over the past two years and the bright future prospects which were amply confirmed by the capital markets with an unprecedented order-book in excess of US$21 billion, an over-subscription of more than seven times, the largest ever in Africa to date. The interest rates compare very favourably to the interest rates obtained in the 2018 Eurobond issue, when taking into account the 70 basis points increase in the Federal Funds Rate from 1.700 per cent to 2.400 per cent over the period. There is no doubt that the results provide compelling evidence of the progress made so far and demonstrate a strong interest in Ghana’s economy from the international investor base. During the process, bids submitted exceeded US$21 billion, compared to the over US$8 billion in bids recorded in 2018. Last week, on a radio programme in Accra, the Finance Minister indicated that part of the money raised would be used to settle some maturing debts to bring down interest payments, while the other part would be used to undertake some infrastructure projects, as captured in the 2020 budget, as well as settle the debt in the petroleum sector. Another area where the money will be applied is to settle, once and for all, the financial challenges faced by depositors of collapsed banks. The Daily Graphic finds the move made by the government satisfactory, in view of the challenges within the economy which require a lot of funds to fix and also place it on the right footing for a better economic take-off. We are not oblivious of Moody’s credit rating report which upgraded the country’s status, for which reason many investors became comfortable to do business with the government. While celebrating this feat, it is important to note that we have travelled this path before, where investors showed a lot of interest in our economy, and yet, in the end, we retrogressed, only for us to pay a price for that unfortunate lapse. Eventually, we landed in the hands of the Breton Woods institutions to gain policy credibility and win the hearts of investors once again. That route, no doubt, has been painful and the price we have paid is big enough to serve as a guide for us to desist from practices that take away our shine only for us to struggle to regain that international trust. In an election year, there is the temptation to undertake projects for which we have not budgeted, and the history books, from the inception of the Fourth Republic, bear eloquent testimony to this fact. It is our fervent hope that the sacrifices, the hard work and the confidence regained will not come to naught on political expediency. The Daily Graphic believes that the managers of the economy will stay on track and do what is right for the country and not do anything for political expediency. The country has reached a stage where we cannot turn back and continue to rely on foreign resources to develop. Let us do things right and take our destiny into our own hands by properly utilising the funds raised, so that when we are called upon to pay back, we will not be found wanting. We also pray that the funds will be felt all around us and not evaporate into thin air.

Ghana rated largest FDI recipient in West Africa – Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-AddoPresident Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that Ghana is presently the largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in West Africa.According to him, this follows a massive vote of confidence by investors in his administration’s current management of the economy in the latest successful issuance of the Eurobond. “The massive vote of confidence in the current management of the economy is best illustrated by Ghana being successful in issuing the longest-dated Eurobond ever by a sub-Sahara African country, with investors placing US$15 billion of orders for Ghana’s 41-year Eurobond.“The international investor community has recognised this development, resulting in Ghana today, being the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in West Africa”, the President said in his fourth State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 20 February 2020.President Akufo-Addo also noted that Ghana’s economic growth has rebounded, to place the nation among the fastest-growing economies in the world for three years in a row at an annual average of 7%, up from 3.4% in 2016.The 7-year Eurobond attracted the lowest coupon rates ever at 6.375%.“No wonder Bloomberg, the reputable global financial media house, earlier this week”, the President adds, “highlighted Ghana as the top candidate for an economic leap in Africa. This expression of confidence is important because it would lead to enhanced investments in our economy, and the accompanying greater number of jobs,”President Akufo-Addo added that Ghana’s economy recorded a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 5.6% for the third-quarter of this year.The 5.6 percent growth rate, however, was the lowest growth recorded for this.This is because, in the first quarter, growth peaked by 6.7 per cent, while in the second quarter it went up by 5.7 percent.

Promote consumption of locally produced cocoa in hospitality sector – GTA

Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority Akwasi Agyeman, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism AuthorityChief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority is urging the hospitality industry in Ghana to consume locally produced cocoa products.According to Akwasi Agyeman, the move is necessary to boost the natural resources export and consumption levels for locally generated revenue.“I want to urge our hospitality industry especially hotels, that this tea or coffee type of the beverage must stop but should be cocoa or coffee to promote the consumption of cocoa in our hospitality industry. Cocoa Process Company, COCOBOD, has led the way and it is up to us to hospitality and tourism practitioners to follow suit so that together we can have more processing and consumption of cocoa in Ghana,” Kwasi Agyeman said at the National Chocolate Day in Accra on February 14.Managing Director for the Cocoa Processing Company, Nana Agyenim Boateng on his part noted that his outfit will continue to champion the use of value-added crops to maintain and generate revenue in cocoa.“We’ve added six new local ingredients to most of the cocoa products, all as part of value addition because we want to as much as possible process the vision which is 50 percent of producing locally by 2021 and that is the goal of Hon. Boahen Aidoo, Dr. Afriyie Akoto and the President Akufo-Addo”Mr Boateng added that, Ghanaians must also begin to see the health benefits of taking cocoa due to the levels of antioxidants that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules.Chief Executive Officer for COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo in his remarks said the regular consumption of cocoa is as good as a regular intake of water and urged Ghanaians to consume more cocoa for a healthier life.Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, Minister of Tourism and Creative Arts earlier this week launched the 2020 National Chocolate Day celebrations with a call for patronage and usage of “Made in Ghana Chocolate’.This year’s celebration commenced from February 10 and climaxed on February 14, on the theme; “My Chocolate Experience: My Holistic Well-Being”.According to her, the National Chocolate Day was instituted in 2005 to coincide with Valentine‘s Day, February 14 and promote the consumption of Made-in-Ghana chocolate and cocoa-based products.

ECG brings relief to customers at Ablekuma

Mr Kwame Agyeman-Budu — ECG Managing Director Mr Kwame Agyeman-Budu — ECG Managing DirectorThe Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has constructed a new high voltage electricity line at Ablekuma to supply several communities in Accra with quality and reliable power.The construction of the 11kV feeder follows persistent customer complaints of frequent power outages around Ablekuma and its environs.Beneficiary communities of the project include Agape, Borkorborkor, Manhean, Afuaman, Oduman, Joma and Abease.PopulationThe Acting Accra West Regional General Manager, Mr Emmanuel Ankomah, told the Daily Graphic that the project became necessary because the population in the area had almost tripled, thereby making it difficult for the existing infrastructure to adequately serve customers.“The ECG fully funded this GH¢1,500,000 project which is estimated to serve about 14,500 existing customers,” Mr Ankomah said.He called on customers of the company to regularly pay their bills and desist from engaging in all forms of illegal connections which deprived the company of funds to undertake similar capital intensive projects to bring relief to customers.InvestmentAs a result of this investment, customers in beneficiary communities will have immediate relief for the perennial disruption of their businesses and domestic lives due to frequent outages and low voltage.Mr Ankomah gave an assurance that the 23-circuit kilometre feeder had enough capacity to accommodate potential customers migrating to or undertaking developments in the area.The Accra West Region of the ECG oversees areas including Kaneshie, Dansoman, Korle-Bu, Bortianor, Achimota, Ablekuma and Nsawam.

Bloomberg reports: Mahama pins election bid on economy he struggled to grow

Former president, John Dramani Mahama Former president, John Dramani MahamaEvery time a region of the world goes from being poor to being rich one country tends to be responsible for getting the process started. In Europe that was the U.K., which was the first to industrialize. In East Asia it was Japan. In West Africa it could be Ghana.Ghana has a number of big advantages over other countries in the region in terms of geography, institutions and human capital. It’s on the coast and has plenty of ports that can be used to ship and receive goods. With about 31 million people, it has a large enough population to create a substantial domestic market but small enough that providing jobs and food won’t be too insurmountable of a challenge.Members of the Akan ethnic group make up about half of the population, meaning that Ghana has less of the ethnic fragmentation plaguing many post-colonial states. It scores well on international indicators of governance quality, freedom, democracy, ease of doing business and corruption. Ghana has lower child mortality than its neighbors, indicating a relatively healthy populace. It also has a head start in terms of literacy rates and education:These advantages have helped to make Ghana one of the fastest-growing countries on the continent. Although its 2019 growth rate ended up being only 7% rather than the world-beating 8.8% forecast by the International Monetary Fund, that is still very solid growth.But to become the Japan of West Africa, Ghana is going to have to undergo a structural transformation. The country’s main exports are all commodities:Specializing in commodities is not necessarily a economic death sentence for a nation. Ghana doesn’t have the resource endowment of Norway or Saudi Arabia, but with wise and stable policy it could aspire to the comfortable middle-income status of Namibia, Botswana or perhaps even Chile.Indeed, Ghana in recent decades has done a good job of moving in this direction. Agricultural productivity has increased, which allowed many Ghanaians to move from farms to cities, where they have been mostly employed in the service sector. This has been a typical pattern in a number of commodity-rich developing countries. In a 2016 paper, economists Douglas Gollin, Remi Jedwab and Dietrich Vollrath found:In countries that are heavily dependent on resource exports, urbanization appears to be concentrated in “consumption cities” where the economies consist primarily of non-tradable services.But the service sector isn’t great at creating secure, well-paying jobs. Much of this employment is informal and precarious. And a large share of the gains from the commodity boom have flowed to the wealthy, worsening inequality. Gollin and his co-authors find that the residents of so-called consumption cities do considerably worse than residents of cities with economies based on manufacturing.Meanwhile, industrialization has proved to be a much more reliable path to national wealth. Manufacturing is less subject to the whims of global price movements than commodities, allowing for a more diversified and complexeconomy and — most importantly — it encourages learning and rapid productivity growth.But when a country is strong in natural resource industries, it can be hard to ignite the kind of manufacturing boom that countries such as South Korea rode from rags to riches. Strong commodity exports raise the value of a country’s exchange rate, making manufactured exports more expensive. They also make wages in the industrial sector uncompetitive.This helps explain why Ghana’s laudable efforts to switch to manufacturing haven’t yet borne fruit. The country tried establishing export-oriented special economic zones similar to those of China. But these ended up specializing in commodities rather than manufacturing.Ghana needs to keep trying. One idea is to provide subsidies specifically to manufactured exports. If these subsidies were stable, reliable, large and long-lasting, they might tilt the balance of comparative advantage. This could include subsidizing wages for workers in export-oriented manufacturing; that would allow workers to earn a decent living while factory investors save on costs.It could also mean providing export-oriented factories with cheap dedicated sources of electric power, because generation has been a problem in Ghana. That would help make the country more attractive to investors from China, as well as a place where domestic entrepreneurs can flourish. Taking in skilled immigrants, especially from nearby Nigeria or the African diaspora, could also help build a pool of expertise that makes the country an attractive destination for investment.The raw materials for a Ghanaian manufacturing boom are there. The country has entrepreneurial and innovative talent, as demonstrated by the introduction a few years ago of the first Ghana-made car. And both China and other industrialized nations are clearly interested in Ghana as a production base for the burgeoning West African market.To get there, the country’s leaders will simply have to refuse to be satisfied with the recent boom driven by commodities and urbanization. Ghana has enjoyed great success; sustaining that progress will require a new model.