Burundi crisis: African Union 'won't allow genocide'

The African Union, discussing the situation in Burundi, says Africa will "not allow another genocide to take place on its soil".

There are concerns that the recent deadly violence could spiral into civil war and possible ethnic conflict.

Last Friday, 87 people were killed in clashes in the capital, Bujumbura, the army said.

Protests in Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui has tweeted that the "clear" message coming from the AU is that the "killings in Burundi must stop immediately".

The government has said there is no threat of genocide.

The AU's peace and security council has been discussing sending an AU force to Burundi.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Thursday that "Burundi is at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war" which could have "ethnic overtones" similar to past conflicts in Burundi.

Mr al-Hussein has been asked by the UN Human Rights Council to send independent investigators to Burundi, the AFP news agency reports.

An AU fact-finding mission returned from Burundi on Sunday and in its preliminary findings it said "members of the team heard reports of arbitrary killings, torture and the "arbitrary... closure of some civil society organisations and the media".

Ethnic conflict between Hutus and Tutsis in the 1990s claimed an estimated 300,000 lives.

President Nkurunziza is the former leader of a Hutu rebel group, who has been in power since a 2005 peace deal.

Both the government and the opposition are ethnically mixed.


Timeline - Burundi crisis

  • April 2015 - Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
  • May 2015 - Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
  • May 2015 - Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
  • July 2015 - Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke".
  • November 2015 - Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
  • November 2015 - UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
  • December 2015 - 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura

Source: bbc.com

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17/Dec/2015

Ibrahim Mahama returns fire; I won’t stop taking gov’t contracts

The CEO of Engineers and Planners, Ibrahim Mahama in an exclusive interview with Citi News says he has developed a nonchalant attitude towards critics who claim he wins government contracts because of his brother President John Mahama.

According to him, he doesn’t care how his detractors accuse him of unduly benefiting from state projects because of his affiliation with the president.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Citi News’ Franklin Badu Jnr, Ibrahim Mahama said he will continue to work for the state when his service is needed.

"I will work for the state, I am entitled to it. I voted and I am entitled to anything any Ghanaian is entitled to. I don’t know why politicians will couch me into fear, no".

Ibrahim Mahama has in recent times been in the news for allegedly being involved in the Ameri Power deal which brought ten turbines into Ghana.

Following reports by a Nowergian Newspaper that Ameri Power might have short-changed the country for charging about twice the amount for the turbines, the NPP accused Ibrahim Mahama of benefiting from the deal.

But Ibrahim Mahama denied the claim saying he was only contracted by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to prepare the place for the turbines; a work he had long completed and been paid.

Click below for the full interview:

https://soundcloud.com/citi97-3/ibrahim-mahama-speaks-exclusively-to-citi-fm

 

Source: citifmonline.com

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16/Dec/2015

I Don’t Own Merchant Bank; I Won’t Buy A Bank Or Construct Mall…- Ibrahim Mahama

Those with the firm belief that the Chief Executive Officer of Engineers and Planners Company Limited, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama owns Merchant Bank now Unversal Merchant Bank, West Hills Mall and other Malls in the country should revise their notes.

Mr. Mahama has stated emphatically that Merchant Bank now Universal Merchant Bank does not belong to him as Ghanaians have been made to believe.

There was hue and cry in the run-up to the sale of Merchant Bank to Fortiz Equity Fund.

Prior to the take-over of Merchant Bank’s 90% shares by Fortiz for GHC 90 million, members of the NPP, found it extremely intriguing that government could turn down bids from multinational companies which offered a higher sum for a lower percentage shares.

The sale of the bank developed into a running debate and majority of NPP MP’s openly voicing out their views. They raised several points but their centralized message was that the sale of Merchant Bank to Private Equity Fund, Fortiz, was simply a fraudulent deal.

Months after the acquisition, it was later re-branded to Universal Merchant bank.

Speaking on Okay Fm’s Ade Akye Abia Morning Show, the E&P CEO intimated he will not buy a bank or construct shopping Malls because these two ventures are not profitable enough for a businessman like him to engage in.

If I have money, I won’t buy a bank or build shopping malls; those are not profitable ventures. If you deal with a bank, you ask yourself why the banks exist…Merchant bank is not for me; you can go and ask the workers. You can ask the owners of Merchant Bank; I have nothing to do with the bank,” he stated.

Touching on the news of his indebtedness to Merchant Bank, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama said as at the time some NPP members accused him of collapsing the Merchant bank as a result of the $68m debt he owed the financial institution, some of his friends in the opposition party were indebted to the bank to the tune of $200 million.

He reminded his accusers to note that he didn’t go in for the loan during his brother (President John Dramani Mahama's) tenure as President, but rather during the era of former President Kufuor.

"...I urge those attributing my tireless efforts to make it in life...my ability to win contracts and access loan facilities...to the position of my brother, President John Mahama...to cease forthwith," he said.

Whiles stressing that he has already repaid the loan facility he took from Merchant bank, Ibrahim Mahama indicated that he has developed a thick skin which makes him immune to such negative stories about him.

I have paid my debt to Merchant Bank and they are even asking me to come and transact further business with them again but I told them no...I told them I would be interested in banking with them when John Mahama is not the President of Ghana…even if I bank with you, people will say I own the bank, so for now, I don’t want to,” he stated.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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16/Dec/2015

Qatar hunters abducted in Iraq desert by gunmen

Gunmen have kidnapped at least 27 Qatari hunters - including members of the ruling family - in a desert area of Iraq near the Saudi border, say police and the local governor.

The attackers were driving dozens of four-wheel drive vehicles when they swept into the hunters' camp at dawn on Wednesday, officials said.

They struck near Layyah, 190km (118 miles) from regional capital, Samawa.

A wide-scale search has been launched for the attackers, police say.

The Qatari foreign ministry released a statement saying it was working with the Iraqi government "at the highest security and political levels... to find out the details of the Qatari citizens' abduction and work on their release as soon as possible".

It said they had been hunting with official Iraqi permission - though Iraq's interior ministry accused the hunters of failing to abide by its instructions to remain inside secured areas.

The aim of the abduction was "to achieve political and media goals", the interior ministry said.

The remote area where the incident took place is highly tribal in nature and a Shia region, reports the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut.

The Shia political parties which dominate the Iraqi government are highly critical of Qatar's role in supporting Sunni rebels in Syria - so this is bound to be a serious diplomatic incident, he says.


Analysis: Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

Iraq is one of several countries frequented by Gulf Arab huntsmen and falconers as they search for prey that either does not exist in their own countries or which has been almost hunted to extinction there.

Their favoured prey is the Asian houbara bustard, akin to a small turkey, and to find it and other similar species Gulf hunters often travel to Morocco, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

They take with them their prized falcons, typically peregrines, sakers and lanners, which are expertly trained to home in on their quarry at high speed. According to a former CIA officer, in 1998 a CIA-run sniper team in Afghanistan observed Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda followers gathered at a camp near Kandahar but they were ordered to take no action for risk of harming the Emirati hunters who were with them.

Other Gulf hunting expeditions have even extended as far as the Central African Republic in search of big game.

Two Iraqi officers providing security for the party were also taken by the gunmen but later released, officials said.

No details were provided on which members of the Qatari royal family were among those held.

Wealthy practitioners of the ancient sport of falconry from various Gulf states often travel to the area at this time of year.

The hunters had been escorted by Iraqi security forces but they decided not to engage a large number of gunmen, a police colonel from Samawa - the capital of Muthanna governorate - told Reuters.

"We are talking about at least 100 gunmen armed with light and medium weapons," he said.

More than 12 years after the US-led invasion and occupation, Iraq is still plagued by violent crime and militant attacks.

In September, 16 Turkish construction workers were freed a month after being kidnapped in the capital, Baghdad, apparently by Shia Muslim militants.

Falconry was an important skill for Bedouin hunters in the harsh deserts of Arabia and Syria and has been around for thousands of years.

But the Asian houbara bustard (or MacQueen's bustard) - a likely target of the kidnapped hunters - only came to prominence as a favoured prey in the 1970s, when lavish hunting trips became popular, and when the availability of four-wheel-drives and guns prompted a sudden decline in the species, which is now threatened.

The bird's popularity may be partly explained by its elegant plumage and because some consider its meat to be an aphrodisiac.

Arabs' pursuit of the Asian houbara has caused tension elsewhere. There has been growing hostility in Pakistan, where Gulf Arab hunting parties were until recently regularly granted permission to bring in falcons to hunt the Asian houbara despite a ban on locals hunting - and sometimes killed thousands at a time. Amid a conservationists' outcry, two months ago Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered a total ban on hunting of the species.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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16/Dec/2015

Are we serious as a nation?

An amount of 3, 649, 004 Ghana cedis of oil funds allocated for the re-branding of Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses generated huge controversy in Parliament yesterday.

 Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the allocation is unacceptable and a waste of resources.

“The branding of each bus costs 31, 000.00 cedis and this is too huge and unacceptable,” he asserted.

The Member of Parliament for Suame constituency quoted the figures from the 2015 annual report on the Petroleum Funds.

The amount captured under the annual Petroleum Fund is meant to brand 116 MMRT buses with pictures.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu questioned government’s priorities especially when key sectors of the economy are underfunded.

The issue however could not be addressed by the Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor when she appeared before the legislators. She claimed said she did not have the details of the re-branding at hand and promised to make it available to the House at a later date.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said the matter has been referred to Roads and Transport Committee in parliament for review.

Presenting the Roads and Transport Committee’s report to the house, Chairman of the Committee, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie said the 2015 approved budget for the Ministry and its agencies were drastically revised downwards to GH 50,047,963 by the Ministry of Finance from GH 179, 767,991.

Accra-based Citi FM Mr. Chaie as saying the reason for the revision was because “the expected revenue inflow was particularly affected by the slump in the international oil price.”

He added that the “committee however could not review the 2015 ceiling for the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) item since the mid year review did not specify the reduction for the Ministry.”

Source: myjoyonline.com

An amount of 3, 649, 004 Ghana cedis of oil funds allocated for the re-branding of Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses generated huge controversy in Parliament yesterday.

 Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu says the allocation is unacceptable and a waste of resources.

“The branding of each bus costs 31, 000.00 cedis and this is too huge and unacceptable,” he asserted.

The Member of Parliament for Suame constituency quoted the figures from the 2015 annual report on the Petroleum Funds.

The amount captured under the annual Petroleum Fund is meant to brand 116 MMRT buses with pictures.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu questioned government’s priorities especially when key sectors of the economy are underfunded.

The issue however could not be addressed by the Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor when she appeared before the legislators. She claimed said she did not have the details of the re-branding at hand and promised to make it available to the House at a later date.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said the matter has been referred to Roads and Transport Committee in parliament for review.

Presenting the Roads and Transport Committee’s report to the house, Chairman of the Committee, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie said the 2015 approved budget for the Ministry and its agencies were drastically revised downwards to GH 50,047,963 by the Ministry of Finance from GH 179, 767,991.

Accra-based Citi FM Mr. Chaie as saying the reason for the revision was because “the expected revenue inflow was particularly affected by the slump in the international oil price.”

He added that the “committee however could not review the 2015 ceiling for the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) item since the mid year review did not specify the reduction for the Ministry.”

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-16th/govt-spends-over-36-million-on-re-branding-of-metro-mass-buses.php#sthash.5qzSoyvr.dpuf
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16/Dec/2015

We are on course to develop Ghana – President Mahama

“Ghana is on the path of recovery and our medium term prospects of becoming an upper middle income country are brighter now than ever in the history of our country.”

The above was how President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday night summed up his assessment of the development prospects facing the country, as he rendered account of what his government has been up to in pursuit of bettering the lot of the people.

The occasion was the ‘Accounting to the People Forum’ held at the State Banquet Hall in Accra to account for the stewardship of his administration, and said the developments, as captured in a book, ‘Accounting to the People’ “represents meaningful, measurable and veritable improvements in the lives of our people.”

He said “development occurs within space and time and so very often it’s not easy to comprehend that development is taking place because if you live in, say Chorkor, and there is a hospital being built in Nungua, you might not have the consciousness that healthcare is improving.

And so what I’ve tried to do with this book is to bring an overview of what we’ve been doing in the whole country over the period of our governance. Accounting to the people brings together in one space and volume, major highlights of what we have achieved so far as a government.”

He also wished Ghanaians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

The above was how President John Dramani Mahama on Tuesday night summed up his assessment of the development prospects facing the country, as he rendered account of what his government has been up to in pursuit of bettering the lot of the people.

The occasion was the ‘Accounting to the People Forum’ held at the State Banquet Hall in Accra to account for the stewardship of his administration, and said the developments, as captured in a book, ‘Accounting to the People’ “represents meaningful, measurable and veritable improvements in the lives of our people.”

He said “development occurs within space and time and so very often it’s not easy to comprehend that development is taking place because if you live in, say Chorkor, and there is a hospital being built in Nungua, you might not have the consciousness that healthcare is improving.

And so what I’ve tried to do with this book is to bring an overview of what we’ve been doing in the whole country over the period of our governance. Accounting to the people brings together in one space and volume, major highlights of what we have achieved so far as a government.”

He also wished Ghanaians Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance.

Achievements

President Mahama observed that if there was any particular area that had enjoyed enormous investments, it should be in health infrastructure.

“The number of hospitals that we have built or are building, or are in various stages of construction, are phenomenal. From regional hospitals to district hospitals, to polyclinics, to specialized hospitals, there are so many of them,” he said, all in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare.

He said having operated the National Health Insurance Scheme for a while now, it would not make sense if one had the NHIS card but has no facility to visit for care. In such an instance, he said the cost of travelling long distances to access healthcare could be avoided if the facilities were close enough, adding also that by adding more infrastructure, healthcare has been brought to the doorstep of the people.

The president said work was ongoing on two teaching hospitals, four regional hospitals and 14 district hospitals and over 30 health centres.

He also said five additional polyclinics have been completed while 15 other polyclinics for the Eastern and Central regions have just been approved by Parliament.

President Mahama said 1,260 CHIPS Compound have been built across the country. The number of health training institutions have also been increased from 25 in 2005 to 95 in 2015 in order to train more qualified health personnel. Student intake into these training institutions also moved up from 12,000 to 23,000 over the same period.

On the NHIS, he said in 2008, utilization (number of visits made by patients holding NHIS cards) was 9.3 million. In 2014, the number went up to 29.6 million.

And so when people say that the national health insurance scheme has collapsed, he does not get it.

“We are treating far more people today than ever have been treated in history", he said

Source: Graphic.com.gh

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16/Dec/2015

Adomi Bridge to re-open this weekend

Commuters on the Accra-Ho road can heave a sigh of relief following news the iconic Adomi Bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic this Saturday.

According to the Asuogyaman District Chief Executive, Apim Darko, work on the bridge is near completion and workers are putting finishing touches to it ahead of this weekend.

“I can confirm that work is almost complete. About last week we had a site meeting and there is every indication that they have finished with the work.”

“They are cleaning up the place and putting finishing touches to it,” he added.

Mr Darko went on to state the bridge will be open to traffic immediately after it is commissioned by President John Mahama this weekend on Saturday December 19.

He said, “The commissioning has been scheduled for Saturday the 19. We are expecting his Excellency [President Mahama] to come and then commission so we can start using the bridge again.”

“The bridge will be opened to traffic immediately after President John Mahama commissions it,” he continued.

The Adomi Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic to allow major rehabilitation on March 14, 2014.

The aftermath of the closure of the bridge saw drivers and passengers facing various problems in their efforts to commute between the Eastern and the Volta regions of the country.
There were technical problems with one of the two pontoons purchased by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to convey vehicles, people and goods across the Volta Lake further complicating the once simple commute across regions.

The idea to construct the Adomi suspension bridge in 1957 was necessitated by the need to link the Volta Region some parts of the Eastern Region that were cut off from the rest of Ghana.

Prior to the construction of the bridge, travelers to and from those parts Ghana had to cross the Volta Lake on boats at Senchi.

The Adomi Bridge was therefore built across the Lake at Atimpoku up north of Senchi in 1956 to ease the burden of travelers.

The bridge was designed and completed by William Brown, of the engineers Freeman Fox & Partners.

Source: citifmonline.com

Commuters on the Accra-Ho road can heave a sigh of relief following news the iconic Adomi Bridge is expected to be reopened to traffic this Saturday.

According to the Asuogyaman District Chief Executive, Apim Darko, work on the bridge is near completion and workers are putting finishing touches to it ahead of this weekend.

- See more at: http://citifmonline.com/2015/12/15/adomi-bridge-to-re-open-this-weekend-2/#sthash.PBNNJcjJ.dpuf
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15/Dec/2015

Ghana arrests 'Burkina Faso arms dealer' in Kumasi

A suspected arms dealer from Burkina Faso has been arrested in Ghana after officers found weapons capable of shooting down an aircraft in his bedroom, a police commander has said.

The 72-year-old man was detained in the city of Kumasi along with four other people suspected of buying weapons.

He confessed to smuggling in arms from Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger, police in Kumasi said.

Machine guns and anti-aircraft ammunition were among the arms found.

Ashanti Regional Police Commander Nathan Kofi Boakye said some of the weapons found could be fired for six hours continuously.

Some of them were like those found mounted on the back of a pick-up truck in rebel-held areas, he said.

The search for an arms dealer started in October after a number of bullets were discovered by police, the commander said.

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

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15/Dec/2015

Nigerian Shia Muslims protest over military crackdown

Shia Muslims are protesting in six northern Nigerian cities against a military crackdown they allege has left hundreds of their members dead.

Many businesses have shut in Kaduna, one of the cities worst-affected by the demonstrations, a BBC reporter says.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani phoned his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, about the crackdown.

Nigeria's military accuses the pro-Iranian sect of trying to assassinate army chief Gen Tukur Buratai.

Meeting Sheikh Zakzaky


According to Iranian media, during his conversation with Mr Buhari, President Rouhani inquired about the fate of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, the IMN leader arrested after troops besieged his home in the northern city of Zaria.

The IMN alleges that the military killed hundreds of its members and destroyed a religious shrine and the sheikh's home during the raid.

A leading human rights activist, Chidi Odinkalu, has backed that figure and called on President Buhari to conduct an independent investigation into what happened.

"It is not tolerable. Nigerians have the right to live like citizens of any other nation," he told the BBC.

"How can a professional military respond with guns to people protesting with stones?" Mr Odinkalu added.

The latest protests were triggered by a photo that went viral on social media, purportedly showing him sitting on the ground with a bloodied face.

The IMN has its headquarters in Kaduna, where security forces have taken up positions at strategic places as IMN members protest in the streets, says the the BBC's Nura Muhammed Ringim in the city.

Some residents have stayed in doors because they fear violence, he says.

The cities of Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara and Bauchi have also been hit by protests.

In Iran, a group gathered in front of the UN office in the north-eastern religious city of Mashhad to protest about the violence in Nigeria, Tehran-based private Tasnim news agency reports.

The military has not given casualty figures, but has denied the IMN's claim that the wife of Sheikh Zakzaky, Zeenat Ibrahim, was killed during the weekend clashes.

Maj Gen Oyebado, the army head of the Kaduna division, said on Monday that she was in the army's custody.

He did not confirm or deny the death of the couple's son, Sayyid Ibraheem Zakzaky.

Last year, three other sons of Sheikh Zakzaky were killed in clashes between the army and pilgrims in a religious procession.

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

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15/Dec/2015

Los Angeles schools shut over email threat to students

Los Angeles schools have been closed as an unspecified threat emailed to the school district is being investigated.

The threat against the second largest school system in the US led to 640,000 pupils being told to stay away, while school buses were returned to depots.

A school district spokesman said it involved rucksacks, and they were exercising "an abundance of caution".

New York City officials said they received the same threat that closed LA schools but concluded it was a hoax.

The city's police commissioner, William Bratton, said an emailed threat came from overseas, purporting to be from jihadists, but was not considered credible.

He said he thought Los Angeles officials overreacted.

But LA Police Chief Charlie Beck responded by saying it was "irresponsible" to criticise when you didn't have the responsibility of safeguarding three-quarters of a million lives.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has more than 1,000 schools, which all still being searched.

"Earlier this morning we did receive an electronic threat that mentions the safety of our schools," said Steven Zipperman, chief of the Los Angeles school police department.

"We have chosen to close our schools today until we can be absolutely sure that our campuses are safe."

The email, which was sent to several school districts across the US late on Monday, is believed to have come from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany.

The threat comes amid a heightened alert after 14 people were killed by a radicalised Muslim couple in San Bernardino, 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

"I think it's important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past," said district superintendent Ramon Cortines, who learned of the threat early on Tuesday.

"It was not to one school, two schools or three schools. It was to many schools, not specifically identified... it was to students at schools."

When asked what was meant be "electronic" threat, he said simply that "it was a message".

Officials were notifying parents to keep children at home or pick them up.

Lupita Vela, parent of an eight-year-old daughter who attends school in the district, told the AP news agency she was "terrified" getting the announcement, especially following the San Bernardino attacks.

She wants her daughter to feel safe at school, she said.

Another parent of a LAUSD student, Elinor McMillan, said she's a "nervous wreck".

In a separate incident, classes were also cancelled at San Bernardino Valley College on Tuesday due to a bomb threat made on Monday afternoon.


What's a credible threat?

FBI officials use the term "specific but non credible" when they have details about the location of the threat, such as a school or a house. But the officials can't say for sure that the person who made the threat is dangerous (and it's not a schoolboy prank).

"Specific means a very clear target," Frank Cilluffo, the director of George Washington University's homeland security policy institute, told me.

There are other cases when militants or criminals, known to them, make a threat, but they haven't said where the attack would take place.

That's when law-enforcement officials talk about a threat that is "credible but not specific".

Source: bbc.co.uk

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15/Dec/2015

New Utility Tariffs Suspended: Ghana

The new tariff increment which has generated public uproar in the country has been suspended.

This follows a directive by an Accra High following a suit by Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) led by Kofi Kapito. The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) announced a 59.2 percent and 67.2 percent hikes in electricity and water last week Monday.

The CPA prayed the court to set aside the 59.2% increase in electricity tariff announced by the PURC which was expected to take effect on Monday December 14, 2015.

Kofi Kapito in the writ said the increase is unfair and illegal in the wake of the power crisis known in local parlance as Dumsor in the country. The High Court heeded the plea and has ruled that the new tariffs be suspended.

Some Ghanaians who spoke to Adom News expressed joy at the directive by the court. They indicated that an increase in the tariff was a double jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of African Institute of Energy and Sustainability, Dr. Samuel Kojo Nuamah is calling for the PURC to live up to its constitutional mandate and seek the welfare of the consumers. According to him, PURC is irrelevant and has outlived its usefulness.

Dr. Kojo Nuamah added that the body which is expected to seek the welfare of consumers is rather in bed with the power producers to overburden Ghanaians.
 

Source: Peace Fm online

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15/Dec/2015

Nigeria's Sambo Dasuki charged over '$68m fraud'

Nigeria's ex-national security adviser has appeared in court, charged over an alleged $68m fraud.

Sambo Dasuki was charged on 19 counts of fraud, money laundering and criminal breach of trust at the high court in the capital Abuja.

He pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Mr Dasuki is accused of illegally transferring $50m from the national security budget to fund election campaigns for members of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan's party.

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his arrest two weeks ago, after a government investigation alleged that $2bn (£1.3bn) meant to buy arms to fight Boko Haram had gone missing.

He is the most senior official to be arrested as a result of an investigation into arms procurement during the administration of Mr Jonathan, defeated by Mr Buhari in the March 2015 elections.

A government investigation found that Sambo Dasuki had awarded "ghost contracts" to buy 12 helicopters and four fighter jets which never materialised. He also denies those allegations.

Islamist militant group Boko Haram has killed thousands in north-eastern Nigeria in its six-year campaign to create an Islamic state.

Sambo Dasuki

  • From a royal family, he's the son of the 18th Sultan of Sokoto, spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslim community
  • A career soldier, rose to be a colonel in the army until his retirement
  • Reportedly one of the officers who arrested current President Muhammadu Buhari when he was overthrown as military head of state 30 years ago - something he denies
  • Became former President Goodluck Jonathan's national security adviser in 2012
  • Oversaw the fight against Boko Haram under his presidency
  • At the centre of a row over Nigeria's unorthodox arms procurement in 2014, when South Africa seized suitcases packed with millions of dollars of cash at an airport in Johannesburg
  • Charged for possessing illegal weapons in August 2015
  • Was put under house arrest despite a court order to allow him to travel abroad for cancer treatment

Source: bbc.co.uk

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14/Dec/2015

US hitting IS harder than ever, says Obama

The US is hitting so-called Islamic State (IS) harder than ever, President Barack Obama has said.

More air strikes were launched against the group in November than in any other month, he said in a Pentagon speech.

In recent weeks, the US-led coalition has killed a number of its leaders and attacked the oil facilities it uses to finance its operations, he added.

Mr Obama has been seeking to reassure the public following an attack in California that killed 14 people.

The two suspects were a radicalised Muslim couple who struck weeks after the killing of 130 people by Islamist gunmen in Paris.

Around 9,000 air strikes have been launched against the group since the start of the campaign in the summer of 2014.

Noting that IS had lost 40% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq, Mr Obama said that the terror group had not had a single successful ground operation in either Syria or Iraq since the summer.

He cautioned that the US and its partners faced "a very tough fight ahead".

Mr Obama listed the militant group's leaders who had been targeted and killed.

Using another acronym for the group, he said: "The point is, Isil leaders cannot hide and our next message to them is simple: 'You are next.'"

Among those listed was Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British militant known as Jihadi John, who appeared in videos of the beheadings of Western hostages and who was killed last month.

On Thursday, the president will visit the National Counterterrorism Center in Virginia where he is expected to receive a briefing and then speak.

The two visits come as Mr Obama tries to reassure a wary US public of his strategy against the militant group.

Just over a week ago, he gave a major televised speech with the same objective and to warn against anti-Muslim sentiment.

Critics of his strategy continue to ratchet up pressure.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said on Monday: "It's obvious that the president's current strategy isn't working.

"Far from being contained - much less defeated - Isis has now extended the reach of its terror farther than ever before."

In recent weeks, US fears of a terror attack have swelled, with about 70% of Americans saying the risk of an attack in the US is at least "somewhat high".

 

Source: bbc.co.uk

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14/Dec/2015

Sad news in Argentina: Many killed after bus falls off bridge

At least 41 people, most of them police officers, have been killed after a bus fell off a bridge in north-west Argentina, officials say.

The bus was carrying at least 50 people, most of them members of Argentina's border police, when it came off the road and fell about 20m (65ft) into a riverbed.

Emergency workers are trying to free a number of trapped passengers.

They said that so far, six passengers had been rescued from the wreck.

The bus came off the road at about 02:00 local time (05:00 GMT) near the town of Rosario del Fuente in Salta province, police officials said.

It was one of three police buses travelling on national highway 34.

A local police statement said there were indications that one of the bus's tyres had burst and caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Speaking at a public event, President Mauricio Macri, expressed his condolences.

Source: bbc.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14/Dec/2015

Read: What Norwegian newspaper VG reported about AMERI deal Source

Ghana's minister of power does not even bother to lift his eyes when two journalists from the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) enter his huge office at the government quarter in the capital city of Accra.

His desk is covered with large stacks of document that are strewn in front of him. Kwabena Donkor has one cell phone on top of a stack of papers, while a second phone is charging on the windowsill.

It is September 9th, and Donkor is a very busy politician: A crippling energy crisis is playing havoc with Ghana, and it is the minister's job to solve the problem.

Donkor confirmed to VG that the government of Ghana had acquired ten gas turbines from a company called Ameri Group. The minister had signed the contract seven months earlier, which may be the best transaction ever for the mystical Dubai-based company he did his business with.

VG showed the minister a photo of a wanted man; a Pakistani Norwegian named Umar Farooq Zahoor (40). The 40-year-old man from Oslo is wanted by Norwegian and Swiss police for spectacular acts of fraud committed the last ten years.

VG showed the minister a picture, and he pointed to the Pakistani Norwegian right away. He knows him as the head of the Ameri Group.

– I know him; he is the Chief executive of Ameri Group, Donkor says.

Then we show the minister a picture of the man who co-signed the agreement with Umar Farooq Zahoor, a prince from the ruling family in Dubai. The minister has no doubts:

– The sheikh, his royal highness. They both work for Ameri Group, he said.

VG investigated what happened after the wanted man from Norway and the prince from Dubai acquired ten gas turbines for Ghana for 510 million US dollars.

VG’s investigations show that these turbines usually sell for 220 million dollars.

So why did the West African country pay 290 million dollars more than the standard price?

Mohammed Amin Adam, the director of a Ghanaian think tank called Africa Centre for Energy Policy, is highly sceptical.

– If you can help us find out who these people at Ameri Group are we would certainly pursue the case here, he told VG when we met him at his office in Accra.

VG has been following Ameri Group’s tracks for seven months on several continents. The full name of Ameri Group is Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group.

According to the company website, the company works to develop, co-own and operate power plants in different parts of the world.

The company has apparently achieved spectacular success in a very short period of time. Their website was created two months before the multi-million dollar contract was signed with the government of Ghana.

It's pitch dark in one of Accra’s poorest neighbourhoods, Nima. The sun has set for today, and the electricity is gone. Power can disappear for 24 hours at a time in this impoverished neighbourhood.

Everything goes black, every day, more and more often and for longer periods of time. The energy crisis is very debilitating for the country.

In 2014 alone, Ghana lost over two billion dollars due to the national power crisis, according to a report from Ghana's largest university.

The residents of the neighbourhood told VG just how desperate the situation really was: Electrical systems are damaged, food stored in freezers rots and businesses go bankrupt.

The crisis got so bad last year that the president of Ghana handpicked someone to solve the problem: Dr Kwabena Donkor.

Donkor signed the agreement with Ameri Group six weeks later on the 10th of February this year.

Ameri Group would provide Ghana with ten gas turbines. This procurement would help solve the energy crisis.

The contract was signed by the minister of power and another prominent representative of Ghanaian authorities, Assistant Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dominic Ayine.

VG got its hands on a copy of the agreement, which is 49 pages long. The director who signed for the company in Dubai is now a well-known name among investigators at the Financial Crime Section of the Oslo Police District: Pakistani Norwegian Umar Farooq Zahoor.

As early as 2013, Deputy Chief of Police for Oslo Gro Smogeli singled out Zahoor as a ringleader of one of Norway's boldest and biggest bank frauds ever; the so-called Nordea Swindle.

VG can announced today that Farooq Zahoor is also wanted internationally by Norwegian police and Interpol for his leading role in this scam.

Deputy police constable Gro Smogeli in Oslo confirms to VG that Umar Farooq Zahoor is wanted worldwide for fraud.

– He is wanted by Oslo police distric through Interpol-channels, she says.

The Borgarting Court of Appeal announced its unanimous verdict on 26 November confirming reasonable grounds to suspect the 40-year-old of fraud, as part of organized criminal activity subject to Norway’s mafia activities paragraph.

The Pakistani Norwegian is also wanted for running a fake bank in Switzerland.

Umar Farooq Zahoor portrays himself as a busy and prosperous businessman. His base of operations the past nine years has been the United Arab Emirate of Dubai. He has been living here in a luxurious mansion in one of Dubai’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, as new luxury cars appear in his garage from time to time.

His story began in 1971 when Umar Farooq Zahoor’s father left a small village in Pakistan to try his luck in Europe. He ended up in Oslo. He set up the first immigrant store in the neighbourhood of Grønland, Oslo, together with his wife who joined him in Norway some years later.

20 years later the family owned 5 stores in the same neighbourhood. They sold food, clothing, gold items and ran a travel agency.

The couple had 15 children. Umar was the second oldest son. As the parents ran their businesses, many of their sons learned to be criminals.

Umar was sentenced to one year in prison in 2003 for embezzling airline tickets from his family’s travel agency. The Oslo District Court stated that he had shown clear criminal intent, and that his actions were thoroughly planned and had a professional touch.

Umar Farooq Zahoor did not appear in court. Before the trial the judge had received a letter from the accused asking for a postponement in the case. In the letter, the man from Oslo told the court he was in the midst of business negotiations with bank connections in Switzerland.

Later on the police discovered that he was in full swing at the time with a new and spectacular crime. He had rented office space with a New Zealander in Zürich’s best business, at which they hung up a gilded sign that read Bank.

What customers thought was a real bank would drain its victims for a combined loss of 20 million dollars.

Farooq Zahoor’s business partner was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for this super scam. During his trial, Zahoor’s partner told the Zurich District Court that starting a fake bank was his Farooq Zahoors partner’s idea.

By the time the Swiss police headed off to arrest the Farooq Zahoor he had already moved to his father's country of origin.

Some years later the man from Oslo was on the run again, this time heading for Dubai, where he began his dubious affairs again.

Together with a band of fraudsters he managed to empty the Nordea bank account of a very wealthy widow over the course of 13 days in the summer of 2010. He recieved help from an employee at the bank's branch office in Oslo to withdraw 10 million dollars.

6 million dollars were transferred to two accounts that belonged to a Norwegian businesswoman who lived in Dubai named Sonia Rashid.

On the 25 th of June 2013, nearly three years after this record-breaking fraud, Sonia Rashid admitted to VG that she had withdrawn this money in cash.

She said she gave the millions to Umar Farooq Zahoor.

“Umar was with me when I withdrew the money. He sat in the car while I drove from bank to bank. I went inside the banks and withdrew money that had been transferred to my accounts in Dubai. I gave him the money when I got in the car”, Rashid said.

Despite extensive media coverage in recent years, Zahoor continued to work for major financial institutions in Norway. He has worked the last six years as a consultant for a Norwegian company called NBT ASA, which develops wind power projects in China and in the Karachi area of Pakistan.

The three largest owners of NBT ASA are the corporate finance company Arctic Securities, billionaire Lars Nilsen via his investment company and Kjell Inge Røkke’s Aker Capital AS.

17 September this year: The Greek EPC contractor and industrial group METKA issued a press release from its headquarters in Athens. The company specialises in major energy, infrastructure and defence projects has good news:

They have secured the first major contract in Sub-Saharan Africa. The entrepreneurial giant had opened an office in Ghana's capital city only a few weeks earlier.

METKA is owned by one of the richest dynasties in Greece, the Mytilineos family. According to the press release, the industrial giant had acquired a new partner: Ameri Group.

The Greek corporation informed that its wholly-owned Turkish subsidiary will be providing Ghana with ten brand new gas turbines manufactured by General Electric (GE). In addition to that, the Greeks will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the turbines.

The press release said this is a five-year agreement with the government of Ghana and METKA’s partners in the agreement, Ameri Group.

METKA said their share of the deal exeeds 350 million dollars. This sum is up to 160 million dollars less than the 510 million that Ghana will be paying Ameri for the turbines.

Nobody yet knows who got their hands on this money.

VG has posed several questions to METKA. The company's spokesperson Elli Gardiki replied in an email, saying they cannot speak about the details of this agreement, referring to the press release from September.

– The projects we carry out are complex technical projects, and as such each one is by no means identical. Each project varies significantly depending on many factors, such as overall project scope, delivery time, site and others. No project and no contract is identical and simplified comparisons can lead to wrong conclusions, she stated.

Ameri Energy was presented in the press release from September as part of energy investments made by His Royal Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the ruling family in Dubai.

The press release also stated that the project was made possible with active support from General Electric (GE) in the United States.

GE would not comment on what active support means, VG was told by Communication Manager Ivar Simensen at General Electric Norway.


“METKA will respond to its own press releases”, GE's communication manager said.

GE's spokesperson would not comment on whether they sold gas turbines to the Ameri Group, or what price the turbines were sold for.

Dubai's largest traffic artery is the Sheikh Zayed Road. Its 16 lanes cut right through the city and continue west toward Abu Dhabi.

On the right side of the highway, not far from the Burj Khalifa Skyscraper, lies a weatherworn five-storey building. The Emgate Building consists of business offices and apartments. Until recently one could visit a streetside used car store named Deals on Wheels.

This is where the Ameri Group supposedly has its headquarters. The contract and the company’s websites give this as their main office.

VG has been in contact with the employees of a medical center in the same building. They have never heard of the company.

Ameri Group had not posted its name on the signboard of tenants in the building four months after the contract was signed.

Umar Farooq Zahoor signed the multi-million dollar contract in Ghana together with Prince of Dubai Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Al Maktoum. The Arabian prince is named and mentioned frequently in Ameri’s websites. The 40-year-old Pakistani Norwegian is not mentioned anywhere.

Ameri Group’s website states that the company’s affairs are based on trust, integrity and transparency. We are a very ethical corporation and are proud of our work, it states.

The multi-million dollar contract was signed in the greatest secrecy. There were no members of the press present when the contract was entered into. Until now, the name of the person who represented the company was a well-kept secret.

Ameri Group’s website also lists the prince as chairman of the board. The website also maintains that the prince travels to poor countries in the third world and participates in development projects to provide energy solutions for electricity, water and better infrastructure for the inhabitants of those countries.

According to the Ameri Group, the prince’s motto is: a better world for the less fortunate.

Director Mohammed Amin Adam of the think tank Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) does not believe this agreement will make the world a better place.

On the contrary, he is very critical to the agreement between the Ghanaian government and Ameri Group.

According to the agreement, Ghana will lease the ten gas turbines for five years. After that, Ghana becomes owner of the turbines after paying an equipment cost of 510 million dollars.

– That same equipment could have been purchased for 220 million dollars. The Ghanaian authorities would have saved 290 million dollars, said Amin Adam.

– Why did the authorities decide to trust Ameri Group?

– It makes no sense economically. We think someone is making money on of this deal, but we do not have any evidence yet, the head of the think tank said.

In addition to an equipment price of 510 million dollars, Ghana will pay variable costs of 16 million dollars annually, according to a report from the National Assembly of Ghana. Ghana will also need to pay for the gas to power the ten turbines.

According to the agreement the ten gas turbines are type TM2500+, often referred to as a power plant on wheels.

VG’s investigations show that the standard price for these turbines is about 20 million dollars. Last summer, GE sold eight identical turbines to Sonelgaz, the state energy company in Algeria, for 161 million dollars.

Professor Olav Bolland is one of Norway's foremost experts on gas power plants.

– This is one of the world's most popular turbines, if not the most common, he said.

– A simple internet search indicates that they sell for about 22 million dollars each. That seems to be a reasonable price if you ask me based on my previous experience pricing power plants.

 He leads the Institute of Energy and Process Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The agreement was sent to the National Assembly for approval after the government had signed the agreement with Ameri Group.

The minister's delegation reported to Ghanaian elected representatives that a direct purchase of the ten turbines would cost 411 million dollars. This amount is almost double the standard price for such turbines on the world market.

A crucial reason for choosing Ameri Group, was that the company could deliver the turbines quickly, while it would take nine months or a year for GE to manufacture ten turbines, the minister said.

But it was not until late October (eight months after the agreement was signed) that the turbines were unloaded at the Port of Accra.

From there they were transported to a power station in the west, where they are now being connected to the power grid and soon ready to produce electricity.

The minister of power have argued to VG that he did nothing wrong when he signed the agreement with the mysterious company:

– I would not get involved in anything that is not good for Ghana, he said.

VG made a number of attempts to get Umar Farooq Zahoor, the prince and Ameri Group to explain why Ghana had to pay such an enormous price. Neither the prince nor the wanted Oslo man have responded to VG’s enquiries.

After sending an email to the address listed on the company’s website, someone named Kate spoke on behalf of Ameri Group saying:

– Mr Umar stopped working for our company a few months ago to pursue bigger business opportunities.

The mysterious company does not want to answer VG’s question:

– We are a privately held company in Dubai that does business all over the world, also in Ghana. We see no reason to answer any of your questions. We do not understand why a Norwegian newspaper would be interested in what we do, she writes.

Not many inhabitants of the Accra slum care anymore.

“They are all corrupt thieves!”

Head of the neighbourhood council, Aziz Haruna, is furious over his countries politicians.

It's six o'clock in the evening and power in the city's most densely-populated neighbourhood has just gone.

Like so many others in this neighbourhood, Haruna has lost faith in politics and politicians. He waves his arms and says:

– Our politicians are stealing our country's resources. If you want to be rich in Ghana, you need to become a politician.

Source: myjoyonline.com

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14/Dec/2015

Power Ministry denies ‘false’ publication on AMERI deal

The Ministry of Power has denied publications suggesting that the AMERI power deal was signed with a dubious company and at an inflated cost of $510 million.

Power Minister, Kwabena Donkor, has issued a statement Monday describing the publication by the Norwegian newspaper VG as “false, misleading and a gross misrepresentation of the facts”.

The publication, which has been widely circulated in Ghanaian media, among other things reports that one Umar Farooq Zahoor, a top official at AMERI is a wanted fraudster.

Farooq Zahoor according to VG is on the wanted list of Norwegian police and Interpol for his lead roles in various scams in Norway and other countries.

“The Government of Ghana has not entered into any agreement with Umar Farooq Zahoor. The Government of Ghana has an agreement with AMERI Energy.

“The Chairman of AMERI Energy is Sheikh Mohamed AL Maktoum who signed the agreement for his firm. Umar Farooq signed as a witness for him,” the Power Minister explains.

The publication also alleged that the $510 million power deal could have been gotten at lower cost -- quoting about $220 million as the going price for the 10 power generators on wheels.

However, the Minister states: "the Government of Ghana has not made any payments to AMERI and will not be making any payments for the cost of the equipment."

Read below the Minister’s statement on the report.

MINISTRY OF POWER STATEMENT ON FALSE PUBLICATIONS ABOUT AMERI ENERGY POWER PROJECT

The Ministry of Power has noted publications in sections of the media attributed to a Norwegian newspaper, VG. The thrust of these publications is that:

1. The Ministry of Power representing Government entered into an arrangement to secure a 250MW power plant with a company of dubious background.

2. That the transaction amount of $510 million is inflated compared to other options.

The Ministry wishes to state that these publications are false, misleading and a gross misrepresentation of the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, the Ministry of Power wishes to clarify the matter as follows:

ISSUE OF COST OF PLANT

The Ministry wishes to state that the agreement with AMERI is a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement and not an outright purchase of generating plants.

The Government of Ghana has not made ANY PAYMENTS to AMERI and will not be making any payments for the cost of the equipment.

Per the agreement with AMERI, the Government of Ghana through the Volta River Authority (VRA) will only make payments to Ameri for power produced and supplied to the VRA just like any other Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Also, per the agreement, Government was required to provide a standby Letter of Credit (LC) for an amount of US$51 million, which LC has been raised. Ghana will however assume eventual ownership of the equipment after five (5) years of production and sale of the power to the VRA.

It must also be explained that the quoted price of $220 million in the Norwegian story for outright purchase of similar turbines is exclusive of all other costs such as auxiliaries, balance of plant, civil works, sub-station, installation of equipment, cost of financing, operation and maintenance etc.

- Under the agreement with AMERI Energy, the cost of all these auxiliary works is being borne by AMERI Energy.

- From the foregoing, it is false to claim that the Government of Ghana signed a $510 million agreement for the plant, when it should have been $220 million.

- On claims that the manufacturers of the plant, GE, could have been contacted to negotiate a direct purchase, the Ministry wishes to state that an earlier offer from GE Consortium to the VRA for similar equipment on rental basis proved to be far more expensive and was therefore rejected by the VRA.

ISSUE OF DUE DILIGENCE ON AMERI ENERGY POWER PLANT

- The Government of Ghana has not entered into any agreement with Umar Farooq Zahoor. The Government of Ghana has an agreement with AMERI Energy.

-The Chairman of AMERI Energy is Sheikh Mohamed AL Maktoum who signed the agreement for his firm. Umar Farooq signed as a witness for him.

- The Bank of Ghana before establishing the Standby LC conducted its own due diligence on AMERI Energy.

- The American firm, JP Morgan also independently conducted its own due diligence before confirming the Standby LC for the project.

- Government of Ghana represented by the Ministry of Power and the Attorney General’s Department also conducted due diligence on AMERI Energy and reviewed strenuously the project agreement before submitting to Parliament.

- Parliament, upon receipt of relevant documentation on the project and the agreement, also scrutinized and reviewed the agreement before approving it at the Committee Level unanimously and later by the House.

CONCLUSION

The Ministry of Power will continue to work assiduously to end the current power sector challenges. In doing so we expect all stakeholders to commit to the noble path of resolving this national challenge instead of throwing in misleading claims programmed to disrupt and derail its efforts.

We wish to reiterate that as part of efforts to resolve the current load shedding exercise, the following are underway:

- 225MW Karpower Barge is ramping up generation to attain the contracted generation capacity.

- The 250MW AMERI Plant is undergoing commissioning.

-The first unit of the 220MW Kpone Thermal Plant is also undergoing commissioning.

- The 12OMW TICO Steam Expansion has been completed.

- The first part of 120MW of the 360MW Sunon Asogli Plant is near completion.

Dr. Kwabena DONKOR

MINISTER FOR POWER

ACCRA

Source: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-14th/power-ministry-denies-false-publication-on-ameri-deal.php

The Ministry of Power has denied publications suggesting that the AMERI power deal was signed with a dubious company and at an inflated cost of $510 million.

Power Minister, Kwabena Donkor, has issued a statement Monday describing the publication by the Norwegian newspaper VG as “false, misleading and a gross misrepresentation of the facts”.

The publication, which has been widely circulated in Ghanaian media, among other things reports that one Umar Farooq Zahoor, a top official at AMERI is a wanted fraudster.

Farooq Zahoor according to VG is on the wanted list of Norwegian police and Interpol for his lead roles in various scams in Norway and other countries.

“The Government of Ghana has not entered into any agreement with Umar Farooq Zahoor. The Government of Ghana has an agreement with AMERI Energy.

“The Chairman of AMERI Energy is Sheikh Mohamed AL Maktoum who signed the agreement for his firm. Umar Farooq signed as a witness for him,” the Power Minister explains.

The publication also alleged that the $510 million power deal could have been gotten at lower cost -- quoting about $220 million as the going price for the 10 power generators on wheels.

However, the Minister states: "the Government of Ghana has not made any payments to AMERI and will not be making any payments for the cost of the equipment."

Read below the Minister’s statement on the report.

MINISTRY OF POWER STATEMENT ON FALSE PUBLICATIONS ABOUT AMERI ENERGY POWER PROJECT

The Ministry of Power has noted publications in sections of the media attributed to a Norwegian newspaper, VG. The thrust of these publications is that:

1. The Ministry of Power representing Government entered into an arrangement to secure a 250MW power plant with a company of dubious background.

2. That the transaction amount of $510 million is inflated compared to other options.

The Ministry wishes to state that these publications are false, misleading and a gross misrepresentation of the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, the Ministry of Power wishes to clarify the matter as follows:

ISSUE OF COST OF PLANT

The Ministry wishes to state that the agreement with AMERI is a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) agreement and not an outright purchase of generating plants.

The Government of Ghana has not made ANY PAYMENTS to AMERI and will not be making any payments for the cost of the equipment.

Per the agreement with AMERI, the Government of Ghana through the Volta River Authority (VRA) will only make payments to Ameri for power produced and supplied to the VRA just like any other Independent Power Producer (IPP).

Also, per the agreement, Government was required to provide a standby Letter of Credit (LC) for an amount of US$51 million, which LC has been raised. Ghana will however assume eventual ownership of the equipment after five (5) years of production and sale of the power to the VRA.

It must also be explained that the quoted price of $220 million in the Norwegian story for outright purchase of similar turbines is exclusive of all other costs such as auxiliaries, balance of plant, civil works, sub-station, installation of equipment, cost of financing, operation and maintenance etc.

- Under the agreement with AMERI Energy, the cost of all these auxiliary works is being borne by AMERI Energy.

- From the foregoing, it is false to claim that the Government of Ghana signed a $510 million agreement for the plant, when it should have been $220 million.

- On claims that the manufacturers of the plant, GE, could have been contacted to negotiate a direct purchase, the Ministry wishes to state that an earlier offer from GE Consortium to the VRA for similar equipment on rental basis proved to be far more expensive and was therefore rejected by the VRA.

ISSUE OF DUE DILIGENCE ON AMERI ENERGY POWER PLANT

- The Government of Ghana has not entered into any agreement with Umar Farooq Zahoor. The Government of Ghana has an agreement with AMERI Energy.

-The Chairman of AMERI Energy is Sheikh Mohamed AL Maktoum who signed the agreement for his firm. Umar Farooq signed as a witness for him.

- The Bank of Ghana before establishing the Standby LC conducted its own due diligence on AMERI Energy.

- The American firm, JP Morgan also independently conducted its own due diligence before confirming the Standby LC for the project.

- Government of Ghana represented by the Ministry of Power and the Attorney General’s Department also conducted due diligence on AMERI Energy and reviewed strenuously the project agreement before submitting to Parliament.

- Parliament, upon receipt of relevant documentation on the project and the agreement, also scrutinized and reviewed the agreement before approving it at the Committee Level unanimously and later by the House.

CONCLUSION

The Ministry of Power will continue to work assiduously to end the current power sector challenges. In doing so we expect all stakeholders to commit to the noble path of resolving this national challenge instead of throwing in misleading claims programmed to disrupt and derail its efforts.

We wish to reiterate that as part of efforts to resolve the current load shedding exercise, the following are underway:

- 225MW Karpower Barge is ramping up generation to attain the contracted generation capacity.

- The 250MW AMERI Plant is undergoing commissioning.

-The first unit of the 220MW Kpone Thermal Plant is also undergoing commissioning.

- The 12OMW TICO Steam Expansion has been completed.

- The first part of 120MW of the 360MW Sunon Asogli Plant is near completion.

Dr. Kwabena DONKOR

MINISTER FOR POWER

ACCRA

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-14th/power-ministry-denies-false-publication-on-ameri-deal.php#sthash.JDBm8pyD.dpuf
Read more
14/Dec/2015

Ghanaians to pay more for electricity consumption at night

Power Minister Dr. Kwabena Donkow says his ministry is exploring a new electricity tariff regime that will see Ghanaians pay more for power consumed during peak periods.

That, he explained, aims at discouraging consumers to cut down on their consumption during peak periods, which runs from between 6:00PM and 11:00PM.

He said the ministry is advocating “a differentiation in tariff…where during peak demand period, (6pm -11pm) tariff will be higher and off peak it will be lower so that you can tailor your demand to meet cheaper tariff periods”.

Dr. Donkor made the revelation when he took the hot seat on TV3’s Hot Issues current affairs programme to outline measures being put in place to resolve the country’s electricity crisis. The programme airs today at 12:00 noon on TV3

The minister explained that this regime is being practised in other jurisdiction and was hopeful that the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission will be receptive towards this kind of tariff regime.

Utility hikes

Commenting on the recent upward adjustment of utility prices, Dr. Donkor said his ministry expected more than the 59.2 per cent increment in the electricity prices announced on Monday.

He said although they did not expect to get the 128.6 percent increment, they had wanted more than approved by the PURC, which has already generated public uproar considering that the power situation has not improved.

“My sector had expected more than what we got. However, I also appreciate the job of PURC as a referee between competing interests. It will be selfish of my sector to want to expect to get all what they want but at least, it’s a very useful step” he stated.

Notwithstanding the increment, which takes effect from December 14, he said consumers can maintain the same amount of payment that they presently make by being prudent their consumption.

He said consumers can do that “by just being conscious of the need for efficiency in power usage. We are generally extremely inefficient. There are simple things we can do to reduce our consumption so that notwithstanding the increase in tariff our levels in terms of household income could remain the same”.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/-400483

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13/Dec/2015

It is impossible to end 'dumsor' next week

The Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah says it is impossible for the current load shedding to end by next week.

His comment is a palpable contradiction of an assurance by the Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor that given the measures put in place dumsor will end by next week.

Speaking on TV3's Hot Issues programme, the sector Minister who has promised to resign if Dumsor persist by end of December said:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, from next week, consumers will begin to feel the easing of the load shedding and by Christmas, but again, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, load shedding should be at the barest minimum if it exist at all.

“It may not exist as at Christmas or as at the end of the month. But the caveat is that, for example if the SPO trips, we'll have a challenge for the short period that we will have to bring it back."

But speaking on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, the last edition for the year, the Communications Minister says it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

Answering a question from the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie about whether the Power Minister's assurance should be taken seriously, the Communications Minister said per the arrangement in place it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

The Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah says it is impossible for the current load shedding to end by next week.

His comment is a palpable contradiction of an assurance by the Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor that given the measures put in place dumsor will end by next week.

Speaking on TV3's Hot Issues programme, the sector Minister who has promised to resign if Dumsor persist by end of December said:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, from next week, consumers will begin to feel the easing of the load shedding and by Christmas, but again, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, load shedding should be at the barest minimum if it exist at all.

“It may not exist as at Christmas or as at the end of the month. But the caveat is that, for example if the SPO trips, we'll have a challenge for the short period that we will have to bring it back."

But speaking on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, the last edition for the year, the Communications Minister says it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

Answering a question from the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie about whether the Power Minister's assurance should be taken seriously, the Communications Minister said per the arrangement in place it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

The Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor who was also on the programme carried live at the Coconut Groove Hotel, says the ministry is working around the clock to ensure that there is regular power supply during the Christmas period.

“We are determined to ensure that we have a very good Christmas and we are likely not to have load shedding.”

Mr Jinapor however noted that it will depend on the load that is available during Christmas but was hopeful that since most industries will be on break during the period, the demand for power will be low as compared to normal days.

He indicated that the Karpower has begun supplying some power into the system and with the smooth flow of gas from Nigeria, there should be enough power for the festivities.

The Deputy Minister indicated that not only is government working to provide power during Christmas but “we are working around the clock to continue to provide power in a reliable and sustainable manner”.

“We will continue to bridge the gap and lower the load shedding until eventually we move out of load shedding. We are determined to ensure that we fix this problem in a comprehensive manner, not only making power available but making it available at a relatively cheaper cost, ensure that the power is sustainable and reliable”, he said.

Source: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-12th/it-is-impossible-to-end-dumsor-next-week-omane-boamah-contradicts-power-minister.php

 

The Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor who was also on the programme carried live at the Coconut Groove Hotel, says the ministry is working around the clock to ensure that there is regular power supply during the Christmas period.

“We are determined to ensure that we have a very good Christmas and we are likely not to have load shedding.”

Mr Jinapor however noted that it will depend on the load that is available during Christmas but was hopeful that since most industries will be on break during the period, the demand for power will be low as compared to normal days.

He indicated that the Karpower has begun supplying some power into the system and with the smooth flow of gas from Nigeria, there should be enough power for the festivities.

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-12th/it-is-impossible-to-end-dumsor-next-week-omane-boamah-contradicts-power-minister.php#sthash.76eUx3wK.dpuf

The Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah says it is impossible for the current load shedding to end by next week.

His comment is a palpable contradiction of an assurance by the Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor that given the measures put in place dumsor will end by next week.

Speaking on TV3's Hot Issues programme, the sector Minister who has promised to resign if Dumsor persist by end of December said:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, from next week, consumers will begin to feel the easing of the load shedding and by Christmas, but again, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, load shedding should be at the barest minimum if it exist at all.

“It may not exist as at Christmas or as at the end of the month. But the caveat is that, for example if the SPO trips, we'll have a challenge for the short period that we will have to bring it back."

But speaking on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, the last edition for the year, the Communications Minister says it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

Answering a question from the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie about whether the Power Minister's assurance should be taken seriously, the Communications Minister said per the arrangement in place it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-12th/it-is-impossible-to-end-dumsor-next-week-omane-boamah-contradicts-power-minister.php#sthash.76eUx3wK.dpuf

The Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah says it is impossible for the current load shedding to end by next week.

His comment is a palpable contradiction of an assurance by the Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor that given the measures put in place dumsor will end by next week.

Speaking on TV3's Hot Issues programme, the sector Minister who has promised to resign if Dumsor persist by end of December said:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, from next week, consumers will begin to feel the easing of the load shedding and by Christmas, but again, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, load shedding should be at the barest minimum if it exist at all.

“It may not exist as at Christmas or as at the end of the month. But the caveat is that, for example if the SPO trips, we'll have a challenge for the short period that we will have to bring it back."

But speaking on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, the last edition for the year, the Communications Minister says it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

Answering a question from the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie about whether the Power Minister's assurance should be taken seriously, the Communications Minister said per the arrangement in place it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-12th/it-is-impossible-to-end-dumsor-next-week-omane-boamah-contradicts-power-minister.php#sthash.76eUx3wK.dpuf

The Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah says it is impossible for the current load shedding to end by next week.

His comment is a palpable contradiction of an assurance by the Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor that given the measures put in place dumsor will end by next week.

Speaking on TV3's Hot Issues programme, the sector Minister who has promised to resign if Dumsor persist by end of December said:

“Barring any unforeseen circumstance, from next week, consumers will begin to feel the easing of the load shedding and by Christmas, but again, subject to any unforeseen circumstances, load shedding should be at the barest minimum if it exist at all.

“It may not exist as at Christmas or as at the end of the month. But the caveat is that, for example if the SPO trips, we'll have a challenge for the short period that we will have to bring it back."

But speaking on Joy FM's Newsfile programme, the last edition for the year, the Communications Minister says it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

Answering a question from the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie about whether the Power Minister's assurance should be taken seriously, the Communications Minister said per the arrangement in place it is impossible for dumsor to end by next week.

- See more at: http://myjoyonline.com/news/2015/December-12th/it-is-impossible-to-end-dumsor-next-week-omane-boamah-contradicts-power-minister.php#sthash.76eUx3wK.dpuf
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13/Dec/2015

Gambia declared Islamic republic by President Yahya Jammeh

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared his Muslim-majority country an Islamic republic, saying the move marks a break with the colonial past.

Mr Jammeh told state TV the proclamation was in line with Gambia's "religious identity and values".

He added that no dress code would be imposed and citizens of other faiths would be allowed to practise freely.

Some 90% of Gambians are Muslim. The former British colony's economy relies heavily on tourism.

However, relations with the West have soured recently.

The European Union temporarily withheld aid money to Gambia last year over its poor human rights record.

Mr Jammeh has been president of the tiny West African country for 21 years.

"As Muslims are the majority in the country, the Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy," Mr Jammeh told state TV, explaining his decision to proclaim an Islamic republic.

Other Islamic republics include Iran, Pakistan and - in Africa, Mauritania.

Mr Jammeh withdrew Gambia from the Commonwealth in 2013, describing the organisation as neo-colonial.

In 2007, he claimed to have found a herbal cure for Aids.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35082343

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13/Dec/2015

Burundi crisis: Army says 87 killed in day of violence

Eighty-seven people were killed in violence that broke out after three military sites were attacked in Burundi on Friday, the army says.

Eight of those who died were security officers and 49 people were captured, Col Gaspard Baratuza said.

Residents in the capital earlier said the bodies of some 34 men were found on the streets - and accused police of taking revenge. It is not clear if that number is included in the army's total.

Unrest has hit Burundi since April.

There have been continued protests since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to seek a third term in office, which he won in a disputed election in July.

Friday saw some of the worst violence since the unrest began. Officials described heavily armed attackers launching co-ordinated early morning assaults on army installations in three areas - Ngagara, Musaga and Mujejuru.

Fighting could then be heard throughout the day and sporadic gunfire continued overnight.

Residents said dozens of men were rounded up as their homes were raided, and many of their bodies were found on the streets of the capital on Saturday morning.

The largest number of bodies were found in Nyakabiga district, a focus of anti-government protests. Others were discovered in the southern neighbourhood of Musaga.

One witness told the AFP news agency that some of the victims were "kids" and had been shot execution-style "through the top of the skull".

BBC Africa analyst Richard Hamilton says bodies on the streets are almost a daily occurrence in Bujumbura but this was by far the largest number of deaths in one night.

Col Gaspard Baratuza, giving details of the final toll, said that "79 enemies" were killed, "45 captured and 97 weapons seized and on our side eight soldiers and policemen were killed and 21 wounded".

According to the UN, at least 240 people have been killed since April and more than 200,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

There have been regular killings of both opposition activists and Nkurunziza supporters.

The violence has raised fears of a return to worsening ethnic tension between Hutus and Tutsis.

Mr Nkurunziza led a Hutu rebel group against the then Tutsi-dominated army during the civil war that followed the killing of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993.


Timeline - Burundi crisis

April 2015 - Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.

May 2015 - Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.

May 2015 - Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.

July 2015 - Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as a "joke".

November 2015 - Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.

November 2015 - UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35083823

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13/Dec/2015