Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Benjamin Boakye
Under the sixth Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, suspension of Parliament's standing order 80(1) became a default mechanism for approving international commercial transactions. The order requires that no motion shall be debated until at least, forty-eight hours have elapsed after notice of the motion is given.

However, the practice in Ghana's parliament, at least considering the operations of the immediate past parliament, has made this order irrelevant, to say the least.
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana, by its provision in Article 75, has given parliament extraordinary duty to check the authority of the executive to commit  the country to any form of agreement.

This is important to regulate excesses of the executive which potentially could risk the finances of the country and wellbeing of the people. Therefore, when agreements are negotiated by the executive, parliament fulfills its constitutional duty by scrutinizing the agreements to ensure that public interest is protected.

It is almost unthinkable to require the whole House of Parliament to examine every document that comes before it in detail, given its enormous responsibilities. Parliament in delivering on its functions therefore has rules and processes to ensure that it is efficient at what it does.

One such process is to allow established committees of the House (averaging 22 members) to deliberate on matters brought before them and submit their reports for the House to consider.

The committees have the opportunity to invite the relevant government official(s) or agency representative(s)for questioning in order to clarify any ambiguities that may come up in their work.

Notwithstanding the assignment of work to specific committees, all other members of parliament have access to the primary document(s) referred to committees which they can on their own review and raise concerns while the committee executes its tasks.

A committee’s report is not a binding conclusion on parliament on a matter referred to it; it provides recommendation(s) for parliament to consider. When a committee finishes its work, it thus presents a report to the House for debate.

It stands to reason therefore that the spirit of Order 80(1) is to allow all other members of parliament to critique a parliamentary committee’s report (which probably failed to [fully] capture national interest, by reason of genuine oversight or as a result of the cozy and plush ambience provided in first class hotels by lobbyists,) and benchmark it against their own observations from the primary document(s) to make informed inputs on the debating floor of parliament to achieve desired outcomes.

Each parliamentarian deserves the right to be heard and be fully apprised with information leading to ratification of agreements. Order 80(1) is therefore a safeguard for this final check on the Executive as it affords each parliamentarian, representing about 95,000 Ghanaians on average, enough time to comprehend matters of national importance and an opportunity to be heard to ensure that citizens are truly represented.

It also provides avenue for the public who have interest in a subject matter to provide further information to parliament to enhance the quality of decisions made on the behalf of the people.

It had however become a worrying practise during the tenure of Ghana’s recently dissolved 6th Parliament that Parliament disregarded its own rules in taking important national decisions when “big monies” were involved. Almost all the agreements, particularly those relating to the energy sector, enjoyed a waiver of order 80(1). Between 2013 and 2016, 10 petroleum contracts were approved by Parliament. In the same period 8 power agreement were also approved. None of these agreements enjoyed activation of order 80(1).

What is even worrying is that the companies, whose interest the parliament of Ghana bends its rules to favour, did not attach similar urgency to the delivery of their part of the bargain. Most of the oil companies who acquired oil blocks under the suspension of order 80(1) have not even moved to site till date. Same can be said about power agreement holders.

Why the rush?

The reasoning behind the rushed decisions of Parliament have been mixed and rather demeaning of its highly-esteemed, constitutionally-mandated role. When the Eni Fiscal Support Agreement and Security Package Term Sheet for Sankofa Gas went to Parliament, the then honourable Majority leader Alban Bagbin said the investors had waited for too long.

He added "Mr Speaker I agree that we should urgently approve this project because the patience of the investors is running out" (Hansard, 11 December 2014). This meant that the extra 2 days’ minimum allowance for the consideration of the agreement was too long to hurt the investor’s interest.

Essentially public interest in an $8 billion agreement did not really matter. To the contrary, it is instructive to note from the Hansard ((Hansard, 11 December 2014) that even members of the joint committee of finance and energy who had been tasked to scrutinize the agreement still had questions on the agreement on the floor of Parliament relating to interest rate, debt to equity ratio and cost benefit analysis of GNPC's investment in the project to achieve a reduced gas price.

Interestingly, those issues were not debated in the house though the presence of the Ministers of Finance and Energy, Mr Seth Terkper and Mr. Armah Kofi Buah respectively, provided enough opportunity to deliberate on those key concerns which the public had earlier expressed. Rather, the focus was on urgency and priority to Eni’s board meeting to approve the company's annual programmes.

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy did a report on the Eni deal, highlighting the fact that the gas price was too high. If parliament had been diligent in its work to verify how government concluded on the gas price, it would have realised that while the state institutions (GNPC and Petroleum Commission) were not convinced by the price Eni was seeking, the Ministry of finance unilaterally gave away the $9.8/ mmBtu, a gas price that is higher than any alternative for gas supply to Ghana.

My verdict of the sixth parliament.

It is always difficult to judge a group as failures when at least there are voices you can single out for praise, and/or decisions of the group you cannot fault. But this is not the case of "one bad nut destroying the whole". The critical voices (which I can link to public interest) in the last parliament were very few. And when it mattered most, investor interest determined decisions of parliament. I still do not know the motivation of individual parliamentarians and ministers who push deals to warrant the suspension of parliament's standing orders. But I can put it mildly that the last parliament was rather disappointing in protecting national interest in " big money contracts”.

The New Parliament

The outcome of the December 7 elections makes it even scarier to imagine how easy it can be for contracts to go through Parliament like we saw with the 6th Parliament. Unlike the previous government, the ruling government has an overwhelming majority in parliament. This raises the risk to whip the majority side to rush contracts through the approval processes, if it happens that this new administration is characterized by similar attitudes of the previous Executive where open contracting was terribly weak.

My hope is that regardless of the posturing of the executive arm of government, we can have a strong Speaker clothed with the interest and aspirations of the ordinary Ghanaian to provide the needed leadership to check the executive. The obvious question then is; how can this be when a speaker is appointed by the president? Well, I'm tempted to bank my hopes on three things:
First, on the integrity and control of the Speaker, who coincidentally happens to be a pastor. I hope this will help him to control the appetite of the executive. If the executive has nothing to hide they should let the contracts out in good time so that we can all debate and contribute to the process. For me, any ruling made by the speaker in respect of “big money contracts”, I will reflect on this fact that he's a pastor.

Secondly, that the president has assured the public of his commitment to see a stronger independent parliament. It will be great to see Parliament rise to claim this independence. Again I will reflect on this with every contract that goes through Parliament.

Finally, that there will be voices of change among the majority to support genuine minority positions in the 7th Parliament who will insist on open contracting even when not popular with those who may want to sacrifice the nation for their personal and/or party’s interest.

I wish the new Parliament well and I hope the Speaker will help steer a new order in the 7th Parliament.

God Bless our homeland Ghana

By: Benjamin Boakye


Kojo Addae-Mensah
Group Chief Executive Officer for the Databank Group, Kojo Addae-Mensah, is set to host a new and intriguing sports show on Ghana’s number one sports station, Happy FM.

The maiden edition of the weekly show dubbed ‘Kojo’s Corner’ is slated for Friday February 3 at 8:30am.  Mr Addae-Mensah will take on topical issues that emanate during the week under review on Happy FM’s Anopa Bosuo Sports Show.

According to the Programs Manager of Happy FM, Kwesi Sarpong, Kojo Addae-Mensah is an avid football fan and pundit who is well versed in the area of sports. He is also an ardent supporter of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

“With his rich experience in sports, ‘Kojo’s Corner’ promises to be one of the best sports segments which will see the presenter undertake fantastic reviews in the world of sports. “ Mr Sarpong stated. “ We cannot wait for our listeners to experience our newest addition to the team” Mr. Sarpong added.

Kojo Addae-Mensah is Group Chief Executive Officer of Databank Group with over 15 years of banking experience. Prior to joining Databank Group, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Ghana Commercial Bank Limited, Ghana’s largest and most profitable bank. Prior to that was the Chief Operating Officer of Barclays Bank Ghana Limited, the largest foreign-owned bank in Ghana.

He has a wealth of experience and an in-depth knowledge of the financial services industry in Ghana.  Kojo’s experience is not only in the commercial banking space, as his career began at Databank in 1998 with the corporate finance team.

This is where the Databank’s Leap High values of Leadership, Excellence, Humility and Integrity were imbibed in him. Kojo has lived by these values throughout his successful career and will continue to ensure it is the cornerstone of Databank Group.

After his short stint at Databank in the 90s, Kojo worked with the Standard Chartered group for several years where he played various roles in Ghana, India, Kenya and Botswana.

Mr. Addae-Mensah has a heart for helping those in need and is a Director of the Changing Lives Endowment Fund, aimed at supporting bright and needy students at the SHS level.

Kojo is motivated by his desire for excellence and results, which is reflected in every task that he completes, both inside and outside of the office, and in the people that he surrounds himself with.

He holds an MBA in Finance and a BA in Economics both from the University of Ghana, Legon. He is married with one child.

On February 14, 2017 30 past couples of the annual Happy FM Valentine Mass Wedding dating back from the year 2007 will have the opportunity to renew their vows in front of family, friends and sympathizers at a special dinner night.

The event which comes off at Cleaver House, Accra at 6:00pm prompt is to celebrate their marriage anniversary and renew their love and commitment to each other.

After 11 years of bringing together over 300 couples in an all-expense paid wedding ceremony, Happy FM has dedicated this year’s Val’s Day to celebrate past couples who took part in the mass wedding and to demonstrate the how strong and credible the mass wedding event has grown over the years.

According to Kwasi Sarpong, Programmes Manager of Happy FM, “the mass wedding event continues to grow strong each year and we want to use this year’s Valentine’s Day to celebrate past couples and their love for each other. Most importantly, we will use the occasion to launch the new edition of the mass wedding dubbed, “Dream wedding” which will take place next year.”

“We are very happy the mass wedding has played an invaluable role of giving couples the peace of mind to concentrate on building a life after the wedding, while Happy FM takes on the heavy expenses on their behalf”, he stated.

As part of preparations towards the renewal of vows, the participating couples will undergo a one-day counseling session by seasoned marriage counselors and also engage in a special cooking contest as a way of relaxing and sharing special moments with their partners.

They will also be given the opportunity to share their marriage experiences with the general public on the Ayekoo Drive with Happy FM’s DJ Advicer.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Kwesé TV (www.Kwese.com), Africa’s newest satellite network is here! The Kwesé Network’s Pay-TV satellite service started broadcasting today, beaming Kwesé’s full suite of superior entertainment and sports programming to households in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia, which make up the initial phase of the Kwesé TV rollout across Africa, other countries will be announced in due course.

Viewers in these countries can now access Kwesé TV via Kwesé’s own satellite and set-top-box (decoder) available at leading retailers.

Kwesé TV has launched with a full-suite of top-shelf content which is unprecedented for a new broadcaster. Having already showcased its impressive portfolio of sports assets on its premium sports channels Kwesé Free Sports, Kwesé Sports 1 and Kwesé Sports 2, Kwesé TV introduces some fantastic entertainment programming to the mix including some exclusive, first-to-market content as well as original programming.

In addition to great content and its multi-platform, multi-screen broadcasting model, Kwesé’s key differentiator is its innovative payment options that offer flexibility and convenience. Kwesé offers a ‘pay-as-you-watch’ service that enables viewers to purchase three or seven day passes to its full programming bouquet so they never have to miss out on trending sports or entertainment programming.

These payment options, which turn the traditional pay TV model on its head, provides unparalleled access to premium programming at an affordable price. The monthly subscription option, which gives subscribers access to the full suite of Kwesé TV programming, is available at an astonishing $25 (USD) per month excluding VAT!

Commenting on the launch, Econet Media President and Group Chief Executive Office Joseph Hundah said, “We are a dynamic, young company built to respond to the way audiences want to access and consume content, whether you subscribe for the full Kwese TV bouquet, watch amazing sports programming free-to-air or choose to watch TV on the move, we aim to be the first choice for viewers all over Africa by bringing them the best in programming, at an affordable price making it accessible to more people than ever before,” says Hundah.

The network’s approach to programming is to give audiences relevant and engaging content. It’s focused Sports and Entertainment bouquet prioritises quality over quantity with a slim bouquet of 50+ channels with content that will appeal to a broad audience base and has been specially curated for Africa’s hip urban youth, young families, movie and drama buffs, professionals and avid sports fans.

Recognizing the diversity of its potential audience, Kwesé has focused on meeting their common need for engaging and relevant content that is accessible and affordable.

Kwesé’s multi-platform offering cuts across linear, mobile and digital, making content accessible though free-to-air TV, mobile applications, web streaming and pay (linear) TV.

This launch marks the extension of the Kwesé TV brand, which has already been in the market through its free-to-air channel Kwesé Free Sports, its two premium sports channels KS1 and KS2, the Kwesé App and the KweseSports(dot)com digital platform.

“The launch of Kwesé TV completes the story we started telling 18 months ago. We have spent the past few months building this diverse media company which will showcase the very best in international content and act as platform to showcase the best that our continent has to offer. Kwesé TV promises to engage and entice through our unique mix of channels and programming,” concludes Hundah.

To subscribe to Kwesé’s pay TV network in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia visit www.Kwese.com for more information. Outside of the initial launch markets viewers can access selected Kwesé programming including Africa's largest and only Pan-African Free-To-Air channel Kwesé Free Sports through Kwesé’s mobile app.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kofi Kinaata
Ghanaian Rap sensation , Kofi Kinaata, known in real life as  Martin Kofi King Arthur  has complained about the excessive drinking habit of folks who are in love with his December release 'Confession'.

The Kin Dee produced hit song was meant to advice folks to cut down on the amount of booze they take in but according to the award winning songwriter, music fans have twisted the message.

Speaking in an interview on Happy FM’s Mercy Bee; Kinaata disclosed;

“I wanted to use the song to advice people.The message of the song was meant to advice people against drunk driving. So it’s about someone who has done a mistake and confessing but people didn’t understand the message and are rather drinking more. The message is ‘don’t drink and drive’ but people are now drinking even more and confession.”

Credits: Isshak Abdullai

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Pastor Mensa Otabil
Ghanaians from all walks of life have started nominating various individuals who they consider to have affected our society positively for the 2016 edition of e.tv Ghana’s Most Influential Awards.

According to organizers, since the call to entry was opened in December last year, a lot of people have nominated personalities that they feel have been of positive influence to their lives during the year under review.

is an annual event aimed at recognizing and celebrating the top 100 most influential Ghanaian personalities as voted by the general public.

Kwame Gyan, Head of Brand Communications and Marketing for Global Media Alliance Broadcast Company (GMABC), the 7th edition of the GMI would be a clear demonstration of how Ghanaians appreciate and celebrate the good works of individuals in the country.

“E.TV Ghana believes in positively affecting society through its programmes and events, hence the establishment of this awards as a platform to acknowledge and celebrate the good works of people.

The rate at which this event has grown over the years tells us that the Ghanaian society is dying for men and women who will effect positive change in the lives of people.”

“The list has over the years consisted of people from both the formal and informal sectors, ranging from entrepreneurs, politicians, musicians, sports men and women, religious leaders and several others.

We are indeed very excited about this year’s event and look forward to seeing who will emerge at the top of the list”, Kwame Gyan added.

The general public can make their nominations by going on www.etvghana.com or by filling out nomination forms available at the e.TV premises. They can also look out for the nomination coordinators in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi.

About Me

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I am a Creative Arts Writer who is also into Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Photography and IT consultancy. I am also Social media enthusiast and an alumni of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).


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