Posted by: kvsonghai | 15 March, 2010

Ghana & Ivory Coast sit to draw definitive maritime borders

Reuters are reporting today that the two ECOWAS nations are to sit and discuss the terms for reaching a conclusive and permanent agreement regarding their respective maritime zones, after many years of delay.

The discussions should soothe the unease which arose after the seemingly misconstrued announcement recently that the Ivory Coast may contest the oil find on the western front of Ghana’s maritime zone, possibly calling into question oil finds by prospecting firms within Ghana’s zone.

The Ivorian Energy Minister, “…Augustin Komoe Kouadio, told Reuters earlier this week he did not expect the negotiations to become a dispute over oil rights.“.

For more, see link.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 2 December, 2009

Ghana’s Oil Industry

According to Reuters, “In the constitution, it is stipulated that Madagascar’s land is neither for sale nor for rent, so the agreement with Daewoo is cancelled,” Rajoelina told reporters. “We are not against the idea of working with investors, but if we want to sell or rent out land, we have to change the constitution, you have to consult the people. So at this hour the deal is cancelled.

Coat of arms of MadagascarFlag of Madagascar

Madagascar in 2009: Politics

As with many other crises that have been faced by the continent in recent years, the political overhaul that seems to be taking place in Madagascar could almost be said to be classical. There are two central figures in play ( & ), the military has played a role, there was prior public outcry over a major issue of the day, and the immediate outcome is translated many times over by external viewpoints, worldwide.

What is truly suprising, however, is that after these issues arising so many times over the decades, the public and journalistic concience seems to be embroiled in the drama of the hour-to-hour reports, as opposed to the wider story. In the case of this offshore African state, the 2009 political turmoil, the issue to bear in mind is that the country, blessed with a wide array of natural resources and a startlingly beautiful natural landscape, is economically poor. Not only is it poor relative to its potential, it has a structurally weak and undiversified system that would clearly have not been exactly ‘successful’ in a period such as this with collapsed commodity prices.

Once the main export goods see their values on international exchanges fall as dramatically as has been seen over the last 12 months, any government, such as that of Madagascar, is bound to feel the effects, directly.

The real issue lurking behind all this however is that in order for any of these exports of commodities to mean anything to the wider nation, there needs to be a basis for their extraction. The correct basis, as opposed to what seems to have been practiced in this country, would be to begin on the basis of the nation’s ‘Sovereignty’ and thus, ‘Rights’, over the entirety of the mineral and natural resources contained within its lands and EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone).

Once sovereignty is established over these resources, the government of the day can then openly discuss with the people of the country to explain what is being done and for what reason, and go on to ensure that the local people’s specific to the areas of extraction, gain a fair share of incomes (by equity shares), and that any foreign partner is able to properly contribute to national development, rather than just their bottom-line.

Unless the African continent wakes up to the issues around resource sovereignty, our peoples, our countries, our efforts, our businesses, our pride, will possibly never reach the points needed for us to break-out of this cycle of poverty and dependence. It does not matter who it is that we become reliant on; so long as we stay on this ‘revolving-door’ stage, we will not have to worry about reliance, we would be permanently weakend and subservient anyway.

So, my fellow Africans, “Where do we want to be?” It is now that we need to stake our claim in the world and draw our own lines in the sand. No-one else will ever do it for us. Will we answer the call and finally wake up?

Posted by: kvsonghai | 18 March, 2009

Breaking News: **Madagascan President Steps Down**

According to the Financial Times, “Madagascar’s president surrendered power in the face of mass opposition protests and an armed rebellion“.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 14 February, 2009

The ‘Golden Stool’ of Accra: Folly or Bold Investment?

[3rd February 2009]

A New Architectural and Political Landmark

A New Architectural and Political Landmark

When Ghana’s ex-President, J A Kuffuor, announced that a new
edifice to represent the most recent center of political power in the
country, would be built in Accra, many were up in arms. The
divisiveness of the issue was not simply due to the timing, not simply
because of the potential costs or the financing, nor was it down to
the party political divide. The core issue, in addition to the above,
was that President Kuffuor and his administration could or would not
reveal the specifics of the plan in its totality; in short, the people and
politicians could not tell what was on the table.

Initially, the cost was touted at around $30m, which was said to have
been totally covered by means of a below market-rate loan, and a
grant; both from the Indian Government of Manmohan Singh.

Today, according to statements and articles being published, the total
cost to the nation of Ghana seems to be around GH¢176 million. This
figure equals US$128.7 million (as of 14/02/2009); additionally,
equating to three times the original figure quoted by ex-President

It would seem that with burgeoning budget and current account
deficits, whilst the country has minimal security by way of ‘Forex’
reserves and stable export values, the decision to spend well over
US$100m on this structure was always going to be viewed as having
suspect thought processes. However, this does not preclude the
building from being a positive influence on the nation. It is still very
much possible that despite the inflated costs and questionable timing,
the Jubilee House of Ghana could very well become a seat of pride in
the country.

In the viewpoint of Kvsonghai’s Weblog, if the issue is considered
using the ‘NeoAfrican Paradigm’, the construction of a national edifice
should first and foremost, be done with the consultation of the people.
The other core factors to bear in mind would be that it must bring new
skills and new expertise into the economy and society at large. Domestic
architects, students, town planners, photographers, and especially
construction workers, should always be brought into the fold. The
most important factor that should always be impressed upon our leaders
(at all levels of governance), is that if we want to ever reach somewhere,
we must believe in our abilities and never sacrifice our long term
well-being for short term political or even economic gain. We have
the potential to be great, so let us take the time, have the patience
and find the belief to take a forward thinking stance in our approach,
and ensure we secure the future of our nations.

Quote of the week: “Some things must be believed to be seen”.


Posted by: kvsonghai | 21 January, 2009

Much Ado About VALCO

Much Ado about VALCO: Positioning Ghana’s Industrial Heavyweight Amid Global Economic Turmoil

A high-potential industry

A high-potential industry for Ghana

The Volta Aluminium Company®, otherwise known as VALCO™, has been under a level of scrutiny that has not been present since the days of Nkrumah. As could be expected of an organisation of the size and scope of this company, VALCO has always attracted equal measures of praise and criticism from both domestic and foreign sources. However, as a centre-piece of Dr Nkrumah’s economic plan for the ‘Black Star’ nation, it is becoming acutely clear that in order to make use of the historic opportunity presented by the 2008 election, Ghana must begin to look into the details and plans related to it.

In 2008, The Government of Ghana (GoG) acquired the remaining outstanding shares in VALCO; 10% for a reported $18million from the previous partner, Alcoa; to bring the company under the full control of the state. With the business effectively mothballed, the implied book-value of US$180million can be adjudged to be of little importance when considering the daily costs being built-up from interest payments, lost potential earnings resulting from investing in a non-returning asset, and the loss of skilled staff combined with the diminishing value of the operating asset.

The current crisis has led to a steep decline in the raw material prices upon which the 10 year bull-run in commodity prices was built. Bauxite prices have significantly dropped from the highs of 2007/8; LME 30-day prices for Dec. to January peaked near $0.72/LB; however, this has had the effect of dampening the near ‘rabid’ appetite of multinationals for emerging market assets. With this new set of rules, it is very much a possibility that this could lead to a great opportunity to re-align VALCO as a national industrial ‘hub’ to Ghana’s economic ‘wheel’. The question would still remain as to how to realistically finance such a move.

Whilst all this is going on, it is interesting to note that the two-term administration of now ex-President J.A. Kufuor, made the claim that they had successfully attracted investors to purchase an ‘unspecified’ stake in VALCO, and contribute to the expansion plans laid out by their government. The claim, as reported by the Reuters News Agency on August 16th 2008, was that the “…Country had received offers in excess of $200million for a ‘Partnership’ role in the 200,000 tonne/year VALCO smelter.

The Way Forward
It most be noted however, that for a government committed to what effectually amounted to neo-liberal economic policies, the act of repurchasing the remaining shares in VALCO held by Alcoa; an act that effectively nationalised the industrial giant, although in gross opposition to their ideology, was potentially a very well-positioned nationalist move. That said, with the plan to revitalise the vision of an integrated aluminium sector as proposed by Dr. Nkrumah, it is vital that the company is turned into a national asset, rather than a millstone around the country’s neck.

In order to achieve this, the new administration of Professor J.A. Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), will need to firstly address the pertinent issue of establishing a solid Management Team at VALCO. Next on their strategic plan should be a full forensic accounting audit to assess the assets, liabilities, and income flows of the business. Third, the new administration will need to solicit business plans based on the goals set by their overall sector integration plans, whilst simultaneously seeking out industry-leading technical partners (not for equity input, rather expertise and consultancy). Fourth, the necessary finances will need to be raised in order to secure the medium-term future of the company and its project. Fifth, and last, the marketing and repositioning of VALCO within the Ghanaian, West African, and wider global economic & industrial markets, will be key to the long-term success of the business.

This five-point plan for the re-invigoration of this Ghanaian economic giant will be broken-down over the course of the next few months, exclusively on the ‘Kv Songhai Weblog’, and we hope to be able to bring you analysis and input from industry experts, research academics, and well-informed yet impartial observers in related fields.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 29 December, 2008

Ghana’s Third Landmark Election of the 21st Century

With only hours left to go, Ghana has set itself the goal of electing a leader who will stake the country’s claim on the West African, Continental and Global stages, as an emerging economy ready to take its place at the world table.

The country awaits the announcement of the official final results, from the Ghana Electoral Commission.

With a worldwide recession, a crisis in global financial markets, and steep declines in commodities such as gold, bauxite and cocoa, the next leader of Ghana will be required by the people to direct and guide the nation toward a long-term path of economic and social prosperity. This will, in theory, be made slightly simpler with the availability of resources gained from the budding oil and oil-services industry.

The weight of this challenge will very soon fall to either the NPP’s Nana Akufo-Addo, or the NDC’s John Atta Mills, who are contesting this very tight run-off election.

Posted by: kvsonghai | 23 November, 2008

African Agriculture and the 2008 Food Crisis

Since the dawn of print media, Africa has been portrayed as a ‘basket case’ seemingly incapable of sorting out the needs of its people. African farms are often underproductive, limited in their scale, and have minimall exposure to external markets.

These issues neeed to be looked at and re-worked….

Posted by: kvsonghai | 22 March, 2008

Population Expansion and Urbanisation…

Excerpt from a report. The blog is part of the ZBM Family of Blogs. [Series Part 1]
clipped from

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Population Expansion and Urbanisation…

Africa is expected to witness some of the highest rates of population growth in the world, especially in the years leading up to 2030-2050. Uganda, one of East Africa’s larger economies, is said to have an annual population growth rate of 3.1-3.2%; one of the highest in the world. In 2007, Uganda is estimated to have a population of in excess of 30million people, where at independence in 1962 the country had fewer than 10million citizens. By 2025 Uganda could have witnessed its population almost double to very near 60million people, and amazingly, by mid century (2050), the country could have become the world’s 12th largest nation by population with 130million citizens.
  blog it

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