Ghanaians go to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections this Friday and political observers and polls both indicate an extremely tight contest between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

These two main parties have profound differences when it comes to managing the oil sector and spending revenues. In an African nation that stands out by having five democratic elections in a row, including two peaceful transfers of power between parties, this election also stands out as the first where control of oil revenues is an important political "prize".

Ghana’s "world class" Jubilee field started producing oil in late 2010 with great fanfare—so far, though, production results have been disappointing and revenues have been well under the $1 billion a year predicted. Ghana’s oil boom comes with big challenges to Ghana’s democratic development and in many countries oil has fueled increased conflict, corruption, and authoritarianism.

Ghana has made progress putting a transparent system for managing oil revenues in place.
The Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project.Atuabo, Ghana. Anna Fawcus / Oxfam America.

The passage of 2011’s Petroleum Revenue Management Act mandated the establishment of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) which is tasked with monitoring compliance with the revenue law. All payments are disclosed by the government on a quarterly basis and the current government has taken the notable and step of disclosing many of Ghana’s petroleum agreements—a rare step in the African oil context.

Much of this progress is directly attributable to a vibrant civil society sector—including the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas—that has demanded policies and taken government, parliament, companies and donors to task when they haven’t delivered. The legal framework is still incomplete.

A Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act, and implementing regulations for the newly created Petroleum Commission and PIAC are still in limbo. In addition, contract disclosure is currently at the whim of the present government and not required by law.

Creating a transparent system is one thing, holding government to account quite another. It is heartening to see that when the PIAC issued its first report earlier this year noting that some payments were misdirected or not reported the government and state oil company—the GNPC—were forced to respond. Yet, the government has not provided the new accountability and regulatory institutions—the PIAC and Petroleum Commission—with the bare minimum of resources to be able to function.

How do the two main parties differ on the approach to managing Ghana’s oil boom?
The NDC has focused on investing oil revenues in infrastructure while the NPP believes that the country should go to the private capital markets for big ticket infrastructure items such as roads. Instead, it has campaigned on a platform of "free" secondary education for all Ghanaians with a focus on building human capital.

(Both parties are likely overpromising based on the expected levels of oil revenues.)

They differ on the role of the state in relation to oil production. The NDC believes that government revenues should be used to build up and capitalize the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) so it can eventually become an operator of oil fields and not just a passive partner. The NPP, meanwhile, would see GNPC as a joint venture partner, raising money on capital markets rather than relying on government subvention.

before losing power, the NPP had favored working with Trinidad and Tobago to develop Ghana’s gas potential. The NDC has gone with a Chinese contractor, Sinopec, and is in the process of constructing gas processing infrastructure. It is unclear whether this strategy would change if the NPP gained power and whether they would re-evaluate the Sinopec contract, which has been the subject of controversy regarding whether the government was getting value for money. Yet, both parties are keen to use gas reserves to fuel a local petrochemical industry.

Ghana’s next government must focus on completing the job of constructing a transparent and accountable system for managing the oil and gas sector. Contract disclosure, competitive and transparent licensing, and disclosure of beneficial owners of oil and gas blocks should become mandatory. New institutions such as the PIAC and Petroleum Commission must have the resources, implementing regulations and political space to do their job. 

The Ghana Revenue Authority must have the expertise and staff to be able to properly monitor and collect oil revenues. Ghana’s budget preparation and execution system must be strengthened; including by bringing more transparency to the process (Ghana scores poorly on the Open Budget Survey).

Finally, the government should respect the rights of local communities who are and will suffer the onshore and offshore impacts of Ghana’s oil boom.

By Ian Gary -/Oxfam

Oil has driven Angola's booming economy over the last decade, helping the resource-rich country emerge from the wreckage of a long, vicious war to become one Africa's major economic players.

One of the biggest producers of black gold in the continent, the southwestern African country has seen its GDP surge by several hundred percent in recent years as the hangover from long conflicts turned into a hunger for profits.

More than 90% of Angola's revenue comes from oil production, but despite its oil wealth, Angola remains largely impoverished.

In Luanda, the vibrant capital of Angola, shiny new boardwalks, luxury properties and an influx of Portuguese expats are all signs of oil money in a city that was last year named as the world's most expensive for expats.

But despite the numerous new developments and Luanda's shiny facade, inequality prevails

Next to the sleek skyscrapers and luxury apartments, ramshackle shantytowns and crowded slums spread for miles in every direction, housing millions of people living on less than $2 a day.

In many cases, even basic necessities like water and electricity are lacking.

Activists like Elias Isaac say the much-vaunted oil wealth bypasses ordinary people in the country, run by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos since 1979.

"We don't see the money that is being generated from oil having direct impact on people's livelihoods," said Isaac, Angola program manager of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa.

"Angola makes a lot of money out of oil, there is no doubt about this," he added. "Angola is one of the few countries that can really pay its national budget without any donor funding, which is great. But where this money goes, that's the biggest issue.


The UN's latest assessment of global cases of HIV/Aids shows there has been a further drop in new infections among children.

There were 330,000 new infections in children last year - the figure is 24% lower than in 2009.

But the report by UNAids also warns "significant additional effort is required" if broader targets to tackle HIV/Aids are to be achieved by 2015.

The agency's director said the pace of progress was speeding up

Overall, 34 million people around the world are now thought to have the virus that causes Aids.

The number of new infections in adults has stayed broadly stable for the past four years - at about 2.5 million new cases a year


Many more people with HIV now receive life-saving drugs which keep the virus under control. But the report estimates seven million people who need treatment still do not have it.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most severely affected part of the world, though some countries there have made impressive efforts in reducing fresh cases.

The executive director of UNAids, Michel Sidibe, told BBC News: "Ethiopia, Malawi and Botswana have achieved big reductions in new infections, showing they are capable of controlling the epidemic.

"Twenty-five countries have reduced the number of new infections by more than 50%.

"In general, we've moved from a phase of political rhetoric to programmes being implemented and having an effect.

"But some countries aren't using the right strategies - Russia, for example, where infections are still growing."

The report also shows significant increases in Aids-related deaths in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

UNAids is monitoring progress against targets such as reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50% by 2015, and providing antiretroviral therapy to all 15 million people who need it.

The report shows where challenges remain. For example, it says there needs to be a scaling up of efforts to offer circumcision to men, which trials have shown is effective in preventing some new infections.

And it describes how "intensive efforts" are under way to find effective non-surgical approaches to circumcision - avoiding the need for scalpels or stitches - so that trained nurses could carry out the procedure rather than doctors.



Investigators in Nigeria say they have taken 13 people into custody after a mob attacked four students and burned them alive -- killings that were videotaped and posted online.

A gruesome video on YouTube that showed the killings led to several arrests, police say. The video shows several men on the dirt, writhing in pain. Some are bloodied, and they have tires shoved over their heads.

Investigators have not yet determined why the mob killed the men, said Ben Ugwuegbulam, a police spokesman in Rivers State, in southern Nigeria.

The attack happened last week Friday.

Mob justice is common in Nigeria, with some people choosing to take the law into their own hands because police are either unresponsive or unwilling to patrol high-risk areas after dark.

The posting has drawn comments from some who say that police should have done more to investigate the attack before the video was posted.


Chantal Biya (born 1971 as Chantal Pulchérie Vigouroux)[1] is the First Lady of Cameroon. She was born in Dimako, East Province, to French expatriate Georges Vigouroux and Miss Doumé pageant winner Rosette Ndongo Mengolo. Chantal Biya spent her adolescence in Yaoundé.

She married President Paul Biya on 23 April 1994, after his first wife, Jeanne-Irène Biya, died in 1992. Chantal Biya has established several charitable organisations. Among them are African Synergy, which pursues various HIV/AIDS initiatives, and the Chantal Biya Foundation (French Fondation Chantal Biya). She hosted the original First Ladies Summit in Yaoundé during the 1996 Organisation of African Unity summit. Her Jeunesse Active pour Chantal Biya is an organ of her husband's Cameroon People's Democratic Movement.

cameroonsfirstlady1Among Cameroonian women, Biya is famous for her hairstyles. Her signature style is called the banane, and is used for formal occasions. Biya has popularised other styles; collectively, they are known as the Chantal Biya. She is also known because of her exotic wardrobe. Some of her favourite designers include high-end Western labels such as Chanel or Dior.
Grand Prix Chantal Biya is a professional road bicycle racing event on the UCI Africa Tour. Chantal's mother, Rosette Marie Mboutchouang, was elected Mayor of Bangou following the July 2007 municipal elections.



In November 2010, Bertrand Teyou published a book titled La belle de la république bananière: Chantal Biya, de la rue au palais (English: "The belle of the banana republic: Chantal Biya, from the streets to the palace"), tracing Biya's rise from humble origins to become First Lady. He was subsequently given a two year prison term on charges of "insult to character" and organizing an "illegal demonstration" for attempting to hold a public reading. Amnesty International and International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee both protested his arrest and issued appeals on his behalf; Amnesty International also named him a prisoner of conscience. He was freed on 2 May 2011 when a well-wisher agreed to pay his fine in order that he might seek treatment for his worsening health condition.



Nana Yaa Asantewaa, the Queen Mother of the Ashanti Empire in Asante region in Ghana, was the epitome of strength, bravery and courage. Born in 1840, Nana Yaa Asantewaa experienced many events that would test the strength of the Asante Confederacy, including a civil war between 1883 and 1888 and her own brother’s, King Nana Akwasi Afrane Okpese’s, death in 1894.

However, the most crucial test of the Asante Confederacy’s strength arrived in the form of British colonization in 1896. When various members of the Asante Confederacy, including the king himself, were exiled to Seychelles Island, Nana Yaa Asantewaa took control when no one else would and made it her mission to save her government and her people by leading the Asante Uprising of 1900 against the British. This type of perseverance and commitment to one’s people is a rare, powerful quality that not many people possess. Sylvaina Gerlich, a modern Nana Yaa Asantewaa, is one of the few individuals who possesses this exact quality. Ms. Sylvaina Gerlich genuinely cares and fights for her people on a daily basis and will never back down from any challenge that stands in her way.

         Sylvaina Gerlich is the director of IMIC e.V., a non-profit organization (NGO) that helps migrants while also participating in many social and cultural activities throughout Hamburg.  In addition to dealing with all of the legal issues associated with individual migrant cases, Ms. Gerlich takes the time to really get to know the people that she helps in order to not only understand their situation as migrants, but to also know them as real human beings. If someone is in need, Sylvaina Gerlich will stop whatever she is doing and come to their aid.  Sylvaina Gerlich is also a member of the Integration Council in the Hamburg Senate, she  works constantly to promote integration and rights for all migrants. Cultural events are also a major aspect of Ms. Gerlich’s work and passion; led by Ms. Gerlich, IMIC e.V. organized the first Africa Day in Hamburg on May 25th-27th of 2012.  The goal of Africa Day, and Ms. Gerlich’s vision in her work, was to bring about understanding, unity, and acceptance of the diversity of African cultures and peoples in society. 

            Both Yaa Asantewaa and Ms. Gerlich are not only strong, courageous women, they are also two women who really love and know their own people, and will therefore do whatever it takes to protect them.  This type of dedication and perseverance is more powerful than any other weapon known to mankind.  It is undoubtedly true that Yaa Asantewaa and Ms. Gerlich would sacrifice anything to help their people and to preserve their culture, something that is both rare and perhaps the most commendable quality that one can ever possibly possess.  We are most thankful to have such a dynamic and strong individual as Sylvaina Gerlich here in Hamburg to be our leader for the African community. We love you.   


By Danielle Payne and Eric Obuobi-Nyarko

Director of Communications at the Presidency, Koku Anyidoho, has slammed the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for playing on the emotions of Ghanaians by using infants in their campaign commercials and painting a false picture to the whole world that parents are suffering and finding it difficult to foot the education bills of their wards.

Mr Anyidoho said, prior to the 2000 General Elections, the NPP aired adverts that inaccurately portrayed to the electorate that the country was under “oppression and depression”.

After the successful orchestration of this campaign, he said, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor won the elections but failed to alleviate the suffering of Ghanaians.

“At the end of the day, he left Ghana a home of cocaine, a home of “sakawa” (internet fraud), a home of 419. He started with zero tolerance, in the middle of the journey, he turned round and tells us that corruption started from Adam…he sets up an Office of Accountability in the Castle, and he has the audacity to tell you and I that the office was set up to call people who are found to be culpable and tell them that “hey! Do this and that…because they won’t come out to embarrass the party and the government. So did Kufuor make Ghana a happy home when Ghanaians were crying that they didn’t have money in their pockets?…what did he tell them...that it is only lazy people who don’t have money in their pockets...Tell me, did Kufour save Ghana from oppression and suppression?,” Mr. Anyidoho quizzed.

Speaking in an interview on Larterbiokorshie-based Radio Gold, he accused the NPP and its flabearer of deploying campaign methods similar to the one used by then Candidate Kufuor just to “hoodwink” Ghanaians.

Whiles scoffing at the campaign strategy as a “moribund” and “outdated” one which “has outlived its usefulness”, the Communications Director at the Presidency described Nana Addo’s campaign team as lacking creativity, and a bunch of people who have “run out of ideas” and “hit a dead end”.

“So suddenly Nana Akufo Addo, his team have into the studios, gone and packed this same children again and the children are singing and saying “oh Nana…free education…oh Nana, free education…Nana Akufo Addo", please put your house in order and come again. Your attempt to hoodwink and bamboozle Ghanaians with these infants and trying to get to the Castle through the back door will not work. Jake, Oboshie Sai and co should find another strategy. This moribund, outdated…strategy of yours has outlived its usefulness”, Koku Anyidoho posited.


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