Ghana’s New President Akufo-Addo Promises To Cut Taxes

Nana Akufo-Addo, GhanaGhana’s new President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has pledged to cut taxes to boost the economy.

Mr Akufo-Addo made the promise at his swearing in ceremony on Saturday.

He also pledged to protect the public purse by getting value for money on services.

The 72-year-old, who contested under the platform of the New Patriotic Party, was elected president on his third attempt to reach the post.

He defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama in peaceful elections a month ago, a rare peaceful transfer of power in a region plagued by political crises.

The major cocoa and gold exporter is half-way through a three-year aid programme with the International Monetary Fund to fix an economy dogged by high public debt and inflation.

It is not clear how the new president will be able to cut taxes and still stick to an IMF austerity plan that was a condition of a $918 million bailout, Reuters reports.

“We will reduce taxes to recover the momentum of our economy,” said Akufo-Addo, wrapped in a traditional kaleidoscopic “kente” robe. “Ghana is open for business again.”

At the venue for the inauguration in Black Star Square, thousands of Ghanaians also draped in traditional kente garments clapped. Outside the perimeters, revellers drummed and danced.

Akufo-Addo suggested government money would be spent wisely.

“I shall protect the public purse by insisting on value for money,” he said. “Public service is just that: service, and (is) not be seen as an opportunity for making money.”

Ghana expects growth will return to above eight per cent in 2017 as new oil and gas fields from Tullow and ENI come on tap.

Akufo-Addo served as foreign minister and attorney general in the NPP government that ruled between 2001 and 2009. He twice previously lost close battles for the presidency. He is the son of a former chief justice and non-executive president of Ghana.

During his campaign, he had accused the Mahama administration of corruption and incompetence, charges the outgoing president denied. Mahama attended the ceremony.

It was also attended by dozens of African leaders and other international dignitaries, including Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, Chadian President Idris Deby, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party also won a majority of 169 seats in Parliament while the former ruling National Democratic Congress now has 106 seats.

The former human rights lawyer had also promised free high school education and more factories in Ghana.


President Buhari Visits Gambia To Hold Talks With Jammeh

Muhammadu Buhari, Yahya JammehPresident Muhammadu Buhari has arrived Banjul to meet with the President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who lost the presidential election penultimate week, but rejected the results.

The Nigerian leader arrived together with President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra-Leone and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, who is the current Chairperson of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.

The leaders were received on Tuesday at the airport by Gambia’s Vice-President, Isatou Njie-Saidy.

The out-going President of Ghana, John Mahama, who had earlier arrived Banjul, would join the other West African leaders to meet President Jammeh at the CoCo Ocean Resort and Spa, Banjul.

President Jammeh had earlier conceded defeat in the election, after a 22-year rule, but recanted a week later, asking for fresh polls to be conducted by a “god-fearing and independent electoral commission”.

President Buhari and the ECOWAS leaders would discuss the ensuing impasse in the Gambia with President Jammeh, and insist on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as respect for the wishes of the people.

They would also ask their host to respect the Constitution of his own country and maintain the inviolability of an electoral process that had been concluded, in which he had admitted defeat and congratulated his main challenger.

The leaders are also scheduled to meet the President-elect, Adama Barrow.

A statement by President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, reveals that the leader is expected back in Abuja later on Tuesday.

VP Osinbajo Challenges Africa On Poverty, Inequality

Yemi Osinbajo, Africa, PovertyNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has challenged African nations to urgently address the problems of poverty and inequality even as the global community focuses on its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Vice President made the call on Saturday in a statement by his spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande, while speaking at a side event hosted by the President of Ghana, Mr John Mahama, on Africa and SDGs at the African Union meeting underway in Kigali, Rwanda.

Osinbajo, who led the Nigerian delegation to the continent-wide meeting told the gathering of Presidents and several Heads of delegations that the whole idea of the SDGs “is really about addressing inequality and poverty.

“The problems are so obvious that however we describe the programme, we really must do something and something urgently.”

He cited the example of the 500 billion Naira social investment programme to address poverty in Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

“In Nigeria, in the current budget cycle we have the largest social protection programme in the history of the country. It’s a 500 billion Naira programme (worth over $2.5bn as at the time budget was signed).

“Basically we are looking at lifting many out of poverty, of course many are familiar with the size of the Nigerian state and we have close to hundred and ten million people who are poor and about two-tenth are in extreme poverty.

“So it is a very huge problem and part of what we are trying to do is to look at how not just to empower people but also to ensure that what they are given is sustainable.

“For the women, we are doing a programme, micro-credit programme for a million market women and artisans.

“All would be given facilities, training facilities as well to enable them to be able to do some work for themselves and to continue to be able to live.

“And we think that giving this micro-credit loan to women is to make sure that they handle money better and do a much better work on the whole,” he said.

Poorest Of The Poor

Professor Osinbajo hinted that Nigeria would offer the Conditional Cash Transfer to women, especially the less privileged whom he said were difficult to identify.

“In the case of Conditional Cash Transfer, again we are handing these to women. We are giving (this to) another million, to the poorest of the poor.

“In determining who the poorest is, we had problems on that, but we have very good assistance from the World Bank and the Bill Gates Foundation. They helped in trying to map the really poor,” he said.

Ghanaian President Calls For True Freedom In Africa

Ghanaian PresidentThe President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, has called for what he called true freedom in Africa for the continent to develop economically and educationally.

He made the call while presenting a lecture during the 40th anniversary of University of Ilorin.

The Ghanaian President lamented that the continent has never been free from colonialism and also blamed past African leaders for their harsh method of governance which he noted retarded the growth of their countries.

Each country, he stressed, should evolve plans to develop its education and economy to meet its peculiar needs.

Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, urged the private sector to complement the efforts of the federal government in the education sector by investing to improve the education in the country.

He also urged them to think outside the box in the funding and running of their campuses.

Nigeria, Ghana Leaders Discuss Nigeria’s Security And Ebola Containment Efforts

Goodluck Jonathan and John Mahama.The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan and the President of Ghana, John Mahama, have held bilateral talks, focusing on the security situation in Nigeria and the need for more Ebola Virus Disease containment efforts in West Africa. 

Both leaders met at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Friday.

The talks centred on security and the efforts Nigeria is making to deal with the problems of Boko Haram and other security challenges.

Solidarity With Government

Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting that lasted for about an hour, the Ghanaian President, Mr Mahama, called on Nigerians to stand in solidarity with the Federal Government in dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency, reiterating that any destabilisation of Nigeria will affect the entire West African region.

He also commended Nigeria on the diligent manner the Ebola outbreak was handed in Nigeria and expressed confidence that other West African countries still battling the outbreak would be assisted, especially as Nigeria had become a model in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease.

He said an emergency meeting of the ECOWAS heads of state would hold in the first week of November, where the leaders would be given an update on the efforts in containing the Ebola virus in the region.

They would also discuss necessary collaborative efforts needed to ensure the disease is wiped out of the region.

According to a World Health Organization’s latest report on the disease, over 4,400 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak of the disease in March. Mosts of the deaths occurred in Liberia.