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Anthony Kweku AnnanArticlesGhanaPoliticsSocial Issues

Arms in Private Hands

Arms in private hands

There are periodic reports of discovery of arms and ammunitions being conveyed from one point to undisclosed destinations in this country. Consignments of guns and cartridges, explosives and other lethal weapons are uncovered at the borders, hidden in travelers’ luggage or specially-contrived compartments on vehicles.

It always takes a lot of intuitive diligence, and sometimes tip-offs, to come upon such hiding-places of deadly weapons being smuggled into the country or being transported inland. Sometimes the smugglers manage to escape detection and payment of duties when then they use unapproved routes, to avoid Customs and Preventive officials at the border posts. All the same, some of them are eventually caught at Police and/or Customs road blocks.

We also have locally-manufactured shotguns of various sizes, usually small and handy. These are normally patronized by hunters and farmers. The trade in arms and ammunitions has been a genuine or legal business in the past. Licensed Arms Dealers could import shotguns (usually long, single- or double-barrel models), into the country. Buyers were/are required to acquire Police Permits to possess and use them for specific purposes such as hunting.

Keeping shotguns for self-defence was hardly a remote objective, because self-defence or ‘Security’ had not been a major concern until the recent thirty or so years, when armed robbery has been on the upsurge. Another burning concern has been the presence of Fulani herdsmen who are armed to the teeth with AK47s originally supposed to be used by the Police and special Security operatives. One really wonders how such people manage to come by those weapons.

The arrest of a Ghanaian in the United States of America who, allegedly, had hidden a number of firearms and stuffed canvas boots with thousands of US dollars, in fridges intended for shipment to Ghana, has hit the headlines and social media this week. Initial reports indicated that the suspect was still being quizzed for the needed information on the prospective consignees in Ghana, or any others behind the transaction.

The incident has a lot of significance at a time the Nation is preparing for Elections in less than six months. Again, we had witnessed a situation whereby one of the major Political Parties had attempted to train a group of people to protect some of its leading personnel before, during and after the Elections.

Also, an exercise carried out by the Electoral Commission of Ghana, to register potential voters who had attained 18 years or had not registered before, turned violent in certain areas. People brandishing dangerous gadgets caused mayhem and inflicted wounds on others.

The need for extra vigilance by the Security Agencies cannot be over-stressed. Already, we have pockets of hotspots in some parts of the country. There are frequent clashes between neighbouring ethnic groups and even clans, over deep-seated issues which seem not to be settled satisfactorily. Attempts at peace efforts have had to be re-visited at short intervals.

Surprisingly, groups and individuals, including very influential opinion leaders, are clamouring for violence in their utterances on air and in public pronouncements, trying to justify self-defence. There is a lot of suspicion, distrust or lack of confidence these days among people and in the operations of some Public institutions. This is very unfortunate for our present Democratic dispensation. The up-coming political campaigns and the Elections should take place without any form of intimidation from any quarters.

We should recall the unpleasant consequences of situations in other countries all over the world. Meanwhile, Ghana has been blessed to have survived some near-explosive periods till now. We should cast our eyes and minds back to experiences elsewhere, such as Liberia and nearby La Cȏte d’Ivoire, The Rwanda massacre as well as the massive migration resulting from the pogrom in the Middle East are also glaring. The lessons of the horrific internal political strife are not far to see and we should not be seen to invite catastrophe upon ourselves.

Our Security Forces should gird their loins and live up to the assurances they are giving us in the face of such challenges, not only for the impending Elections, but all the time. After all, Elections are not the ultimate in life. We should be able to live in total guarantee of peace to go about our daily affairs and routines.   Hoarding guns, missiles and other lethal weapons will not solve any problems; they will rather aggravate the security situation in this country.

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ArticlesBlogGhanaReligionViews of Kwame Krah

Recent Craze for Doom Prophecies: The need for Standards to Regulate and Promote Decorum

Prophecies of Doom

The idea of taking undue advantage of people’s vulnerability to the fear of the unknown to spit out anything that comes to mind will only end up subjecting the practice to ridicule. The recent craze for death threats, curses and what have you as a way of persuasion is just unreasonable and I think it’s about time the Christian council define standards to regulate the outburst behaviour of some of these religious leaders/bodies.

I believe religion can be repackaged to project a considerable magnitude of positivism in thinking to help nurture a psychologically and emotionally healthy citizenry to drive a development agenda.
We don’t need to allow a type of religious practice that imbues fear and degrades the moral strength of people through all sorts of human fabricated obligations and unnecessary misfortune biased pronouncements in the form of prophecies.

I am not disputing the fact that there are predictions that do materialize–of course, we’ve seen lots of that in both academia and religion. We have scientific theories propounded in 17th/18th centuries that are still making contextual sense with their predictions in this 21st century.

We had great scholars ranging from Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Einstein, Aristotle, and their contemporaries who studied historical trends, socio-economic, cultural and scientific realities to draw conclusions and make predictions with accuracy or near accuracy which goes a long way to say that, religion does not have an absolute monopoly over predictions.

In the history of religion, there were great prophets who predicted and it came to pass but the difference between their practice and the current craze for doom Prophecy is that, their’s were more preventive, conditional and sensible which shared some scientific similarities.

There were instances where scientists came out with predictions of say, earthquakes or eclipse and advice appropriately like past religious prophets did with their prophecies. Scientists will tell you clearly that, at 1pm prompt, there’ll be an eclipse which will result in a total blackout so avoid driving and direct eye contact, or there will be an earthquake so move from your current position.

The unfortunate side of doom prophecy is that, if a prophet of doom has a knowledge of an upcoming eclipse or earthquake, he will predict your blindness, accident, death and pray it happens for him to gain popularity instead of telling you the available remedies.

There must be standards to regulate such occurrences to promote decorum in religious practices in this country. There should be an obligation that requires anyone that alleges or asserts anything in this country, either in the form of prophecies, voodoo pronouncement or what have you to provide the basis under which those assertions are made and attach reasonable remedies–not a solution that coerces victims to be part of the prophet’s church, cult or pay ransom amounts for redemption.

Define the standards and let them respect it.

 

Richard Kwame Krah

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ArticlesGhanaIIPGHInformation and Communication TechnologyTechnology

Five Ways to Hire a Good IT Professional

Five Ways to Hire a Good IT Professional

As all managers know, hiring the right people is not easy, and at the same time a very crucial process for the success of an organization. The more complex, fast changing and technologically advanced the world becomes, the more important it becomes to find the right people for the right jobs. This is in particular true for IT-personnel. In fact, in most African countries, businesses are inclined to contract IT-companies from the US or India to come and do the job as soon as things start to become risky. They are not sure they can find the right staff in their own country.

But that is not necessarily the best decision.

For example in the Netherlands, the Dutch central government has a long track record of failed ICT projects and programs. Most of them were carried out by large IT companies with a good reputation, capable to deliver large amounts of IT personnel of different kinds. Many of these projects failed, often leading to enormous losses of tax payer’s money. The conclusion of the Dutch parliament was, that ministries should start to recruit and train their own IT-professionals and IT-managers, rather than depending on these large companies, who often abused these expensive projects to cash big while using the government as the training grounds for their youngest employees.

Recently the Dutch central government decided to start a new agency, the  “Government ICT Guild”  It is a training program as well as a pool of highly qualified IT professionals, that can be hired to execute IT projects of all kinds for the Dutch government.

Recently, a director of Accra based training center Maxim Nyansa IT-Solutions, met with Mr. Mo Jaber, the founder of the agency, to exchange experiences. Both organizations have an elaborate selection process, where practical skills are tested as well as knowledge of IT.  Mr. Jaber stated: “We have even taken the technical selection process a step further. We had an assessment developed especially for us by the Software Improvement Group (SIG, Amsterdam) to evaluate the quality of someone’s code.”  Still, the vast majority of candidates are turned down by the Government ICT Guild for other reasons than the quality of their technical skills.

During the meeting, Mr. Jaber then lifted his hand and said, pointing at the five fingers: “I have come to the conclusion that there are five criteria to hire a good IT professional: attitude, attitude, attitude, attitude, and finally technical skills.”  In most cases, the technical skills can be learned. Or, as we experience, some candidates are extremely intelligent, and will be capable to do their work in only a fraction of the time of an ordinary professional. But if the person does not have the right attitude, hiring him can still turn out disastrous.

Young graduates in Ghana often wonder how they can become attractive in the job market in this country.  A master degree from the US, India or China is the magic word, but hard to get for most… But looking at the conclusion of the Dutch ICT Guild, this may not be the issue. Of course, recruiters should ask their candidates if they have been investing in personal development. There are young Ghanaians who are studying day and night online with free resources like Coursera. They show much more than technical knowledge. They show eagerness to continue to learn and meet the international standards of the industry, today, and in the future. In IT, lifelong learning is inevitable. Doing it is showing the right attitude.

So what other attitudes should you look out for?

Beyond any doubt, reliability is the number one. Reliability implies being a person of integrity. A reliable person will always tell you the truth, is transparent about his intentions, and normally does what he has promised.

Goal-orientation is also very important. A purposeful person has a clear goal in mind and will always tune his actions to deliver the product that you want, working hard to get things done.

Finally, time management is key. In the international job market, being on time for appointments and meeting deadlines are the norm. In the Ghana of 2018, this should no longer be an issue.

Mr. Mo Jaber of the ICT Guild in the Netherlands is expecting to build an inspiring new agency, and be an attractive employer for talented young people. Hiring IT professionals in this way, he is probably going to succeed. Smart young graduates with the right attitude will just love to work there.

 

Diana van der Stelt, Trinity Software Center Kumasi (member: Institute of ICT professionals Ghana and managing board member at Maxim Nyansa IT Solutions).

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BlogGhanaPoliticsViews of Kwame Krah

Martin Amidu’s ‘Perception’ and the Game of Politics

The game of politics

Assuming your claim that, “former President Mahama was wrongly accused of corruption” is right which implies that he was actually a victim of ‘Perception’ and a deliberate plot to defame, why didn’t he or any other concerned member of the party sue for substantiation knowing well that the law requires he who alleges/asserts to prove (Affirmati Non Neganti Incumbit Probato).

The big question you should be asking is, who in politics cares if that claim is right? The game of politics is a dirty one that features the smart not a child’s play nor that of the “innocent” and the weak. If you’re allergic to dirt, you don’t wrestle with a pig. If you hate fire, you have no business in the kitchen. Same way if you’re not smart, you should fall out of politics and get yourself a job that best suits your personality.

Political game is about how loud you can project your image to the masses by tarnishing that of your opponent. It is about the magnitude of denigration you can ‘shoot’ to the camp of your opposition with all the arsenals at your disposal. It is about how strong your propaganda machinery is.

I can without fear of any myopic political tag say that, the 2016 propaganda machinery of the New Patriotic Party was one of the best any political party has ever had. It was well organized with youthful exuberance throwing political career damaging jabs from all angles whilst ‘yaanom’ were “power-drunk” and exchanging pleasantries with arrogance.

“Otashi Otwa tea” now you’re here crying over spilt milk that Martin Amidu said his corruption allegations were based on perception.

What was your propaganda machinery doing when others were busily drafting strong worded campaign statements? Where was your damage control when the damage was being caused? Where was your defense when the attacks were mounted to ‘assassinate’ John Mahama’s political character as you’ve claimed?

Y’all harboring sentiments and unfounded emotional bombs lurking to spot a blame game and explode should hold your chill and rather advise your people to correct their flaws. Channeling your energy towards an unproductive social media rant is a complete waste of time. Nobody really cares. We seriously don’t.

 

Richard Kwame Krah

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Anthony Kweku AnnanArticlesGhanaSocial Issues

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

It will be recalled that in December, 2015, over one hundred and ninety delegates, including Heads of State, met in the French capital, Paris, to deliberate on Climate Change. What has come to be known as CAP21Paris was a Forum on Sustainable Innovation which prepared a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for eventual ratification by member-states.

The Forum sought to ensure that steps to reduce carbon emissions are to be enshrined in laws of participating countries. It was targeted to hold global warning to a level below 2Celsius for industrial countries and between 1o and 1.5C for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Forum also sought to ensure that countries agree to a new global deal to tackle Climate Change. There was the need to embed Climate Change legislation into national action and equity differentiation between developed and developing countries.

The Agreement to curb carbon emissions was signed by 165 countries at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, (22nd April, 2016), including about ¾ of governments of African countries. The World Bank was expected to spend 28% of its investments on projects directed towards limiting planet heating and control or mitigation of the effects on the ecosystem in the form of desertification. The Bank is supposed to be insistent on the search for renewable energy.

It is significant to remark that the United States and China, which are the world’s most polluted countries, readily joined the other signatories to ratify the deal into action. According to a statement before the signing ceremony, the President of the Grantham Research Institute, Lord Nicholas Stern, emphasized that the investments to be made by the World Bank must be in transport, energy, water, buildings and land utilization and management. He warned that, otherwise, we are doomed to a situation where people can neither move nor breathe in our cities and to ecosystems that will collapse.

To that effect, more than USD100 billion yearly will have to be invested in infrastructure globally for the next 20years, if the commitments made in the agreement are to be fulfilled. Meanwhile, in the past decade or so, poor countries have not been able to benefit from a Green Climate Fund (GCF) created to give small, developing countries direct access to finances to protect themselves from risks due to Climate Change, like flooding and desertification. Such vulnerable nations include islands such as Tonga, the Comoros, Grenada, etc., which have been confronted with complicated bureaucratic and accreditation processes.

The documentation on a 52-page application dossier includes the GCF fiduciary and gender policy standards as well as how relevant environmental and social safeguards against corruption and complaints have been handled in the past couple of years, among others. The accreditation process has thereby been described as an ‘excruciatingly painful’ document.  Least Developed Countries in vulnerable situations have had to resort to contracting international financial institutions and NGOs to access the maximum of USD300,000, after complying with the relevant guidelines.

At the next meeting of the Forum, in Marrakesh, Morocco, COP22 is expected to highlight African problems relative to Climate Change as over 250 million people are displaced annually as a result of floods and desertification. For the meantime, the signatory-member-states of the UN are required to redeem their pledges while cumbersome procedures for accessing the Green Climate Fund would have to be reviewed. Countries would have to adopt projects and accelerated action plans for early-warning predictions. At the individual levels, we are obliged to co-operate in the way we consume products of non-replaceable fossil energy.

Lifestyle changes would have to be evident and taken seriously by citizens of Least Developed Countries as our personal contribution towards a sustainable development and the limitation of the effects of Global Warming or Climate Change.

The Government of Ghana should join the other signatories to come out with precise action plans embracing long-term projects to protect water bodies, forests and other elements of our environment. The benchmarks set in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development may only succeed if the ordinary citizens see themselves as the beneficiaries in the long run.

 

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Information and Communication Technology

Smart Forest: Can ICT Play A Role In Preserving The Forest Resources of Ghana?

Smart Forest

Ghana’s total land area is at 22,754,000 square hectors while total area covered by our forest is 5,517,000 square hectors representing 24.25% as at 2005 according to data published by the mongaby.com. However the statistics keep dropping due to various factors that affect our forest thus causing fast depletion of the forest reserves. There’s alarming rate of destruction of our forests and game reserves according to Sumit Chakravarty’s research into cause and effects of deforestation. The Food and Agriculture Organization FAO’s FRA report on deforestation according to Annon, 2001 estimated that between 1990 and 2000 about 0.20% representing 8327ha/year of the world’s total forest cover was depleted and 0.13%ha/year representing 5211ha/year was destroyed and this is a serious call for concern for us and the whole world because our livelihood depends greatly on the forest.

According to data published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Ghana’s forest reserve for the year 2010 under the Global Forest Resource Assessment (FRA) program, Ghana’s forest contributed to 4% of the nation’s GDP for same year as compared to 8% a decade from 2010. What will the next decade be?

Forestry experts have warned according to the Graphic Online; 21st August 2017, that Ghana risks losing its forest reserves to illegal and legal logging in just a decade from now if immediate actions are not taken to curtail activities of wood harvesters and unregulated miners.

These forest reserves have been handed over to us by our forefathers and there is the need to preserve them in a sustainable manner at all cost for the generations after us and also for our own benefit.

Now let’s take a look at some of the factors that contribute to the fast depletion of our forest reserves;

  1. Population growth: the population of humans in Ghana is on an exponential increase resulting in high rate of urbanization, increase demand for food and shelter. Due to this forest reserves are rapidly being converted to farmland, trees are increasingly being felled to satisfy the growing demand for man’s need.
  2. Illegal logging: Apart from meeting the growing demand of the citizens of Ghana, some people also illegally are involved in the harvesting of timbers in our forest for export thus resulting in fast depletion of the forest.
  3. Bush burning: In 1982, Ghana suffered severe destruction of our forest reserves from bush fires during which period a lot of farmlands and farms were destroyed. The result of this was severe famine in 1983 which impacted negatively on the economy causing the death of many people. According to the BBC, bush fire is caused either naturally or by human activities which may be accidental or deliberate but in most cases it’s deliberate.

The Forestry Commission of Ghana has been on the vigilance guarding against deliberate destruction of the forest by activities of people. However, there is the need to find ways and means by which ICT can be used to provide increased vigilance of the forest and also to provide real time data collection from our reserves. The question then is what role can ICT play in preserving the forest reserves of Ghana?

Let’s therefore examine a few things that can be done using ICT.

Internet of Things (IoT)

There is the need to inculcate ICT tools into the management of the forest especially in areas where illegal activities require monitoring. One way by which this can be done is the use of Internet of Things simply referred to as IoT.

In this context, sensors, cameras, wireless technology can be deployed in the forest to collect data on the various components of the forest ranging from wildlife mobility and migration, trees, plants, humidity, temperature, flood detection, bush burning, presence of people, sound level, canopy cover etc.

A network of these sensors, cameras and wireless devices can be set up and connected to a cloud based server for easy monitoring and real-time data collection via the internet. Data from the forest can now be ubiquitously obtained. Examples of some of these sensors that have been developed purposely for this technology are dendrometer bands and photosynthetically active radiation sensors for automated forest and rangeland productivity measurements; nitrate, dissolved oxygen, pH, and dissolved organic carbon sensors for automated water quality measurements; acoustical sensors for automated detection of presence or absence of wildlife species; optical sensors, including “critter cams” to capture and record wildlife presence and behavior, as well as more sophisticated phenocams and image extraction procedures to automate detection of canopy condition resulting from stressors such as drought, nutrient imbalances, pests or pathogens. Kudos to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for setting the pace in the development of these Smart Forest Technologies.

This new cyber-technology can be built using wireless sensor communication to transmit high frequency and high quality data to stakeholders more rapidly. Measurement can be obtained more easily and cost effectively compared to manual collection.

Advance countries like the USA, Australia, and Canada have already deployed these technologies and are still making researches into how to make use of ICT to better manage their forest reserves which serve as important national asset.

Economic Benefits of Using ICT to manage the Forest reserves

Information Communication Technology has come to make live comfortable and so is Internet of things (IoT) which keenly focuses on connecting things both animate and inanimate to the internet for easy manageability and real-time data collection.

Governments all over the world especially in Ghana can take advantage of technology in the effective management of the forest reserves so as to;

  1. Be able to the collect real time data what is happening in our forest reserves and to formulated policies or to enact laws to prevent people from destroying to forest.
  2. Enhance access to data on our forest reserves. Accurate data is required in forecasting what the forest reserves will be like in a period of time to come and this can be made possible through ICT
  3. Curb incidents of bush burning. Bush fire is number one threat to our forest resources and food security. However, with effective and automated monitoring and warning in place, bush fires can easily be detected and prevented or controlled so as to avert its economic impact on the nation as had been the case in 1982 and 1983 and many similar repeated occurrences thereafter.

In summary, ICT has a key role to play in the future of our forest resources and that is the way to go and the nation must embrace it with all urgency required.

Investors, researchers, ICT professionals are encouraged to begin to focus on the best ways by which this important national assets can be reserved using ICT.

Elolo Alfred Konglo – Telecommunication, ICT, Electrical and Energy Engineer (Member, Institute of ICT Professionals, Ghana)

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