WHY INTRA-AFRICAN TRADE IS LOWEST

Source: AfDB

When you study this map, you realise that the continents with the lowest trade between their countries are the poorest. Those with a lot of trade are rich[er]. Why then are the poorer continents not emulating the richer ones and creating conditions for their countries to trade with each other?

The level of intra-African regional trade is the lowest globally. Regional integration is a development priority for Africa says the Africa Development Bank! Why is it that the 50 something countries within the second largest continent do not trade with each other? Academics will point to regional integration and the academic reasons that prevent it? That is only part of the answer. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as far back as the early 60s pushed for intra-African trade—specifically an economic and political unity of African states but his ideas were aborted when he was ousted in a CIA-assisted coup d’ état in 1966.

Some of the major reasons for lack of significant intra-continental trade within Africa between its countries is rooted in FEAR and PRIDE. A subset of FEAR is INSECURITY which breeds MISTRUST. This mistrust permeates through all spheres of the African society and reality at present. Let’s examine how fear and then later pride hinders Africa from reaching her potential.

FEAR AND TRUST

African countries have TRUST issues. They’d sooner trust foreigners than fellow Africans—and it is this that has manifested in the lowest level of intra-continental trade. States are made up of people. One people group does not trust another people group. When you interrogate the reasons why, the answers proffered are usually flimsy and superficial. Some have not even critically examined why they hold negative views about their neighbours. If given the chance to travel outside the continent or within the continent, most Africans would probably select the former.

There are many reasons for the FEAR and PRIDE that hamstrings development within Africa. Some are rooted in the further balkanizing of already balkanized Africa in the 1800s by European powers known as the “Scramble for Africa”. Colonization either through the policy of association or assimilation did not help but further divided Africa and its people. Divide and rule tactics by imperialists was, and in some cases still is, the order of the day. Divided we fell but together we could have stood. Then came the importation of democracy into the continent in the 1950s. The strain that was prevalent in Africa and still is, is the divisive, winner-takes-all politicasting that causes one group in society to demonize the other side without recourse to actual national development issues. Propaganda has become normal in Africa’s political landscape.

Politic in the 1828 Webster’s dictionary is defined as: “Wise; prudent and sagacious in devising and pursuing measures adapted to promote the public welfare; applied to persons; as a politic prince”.

A politicaster is defined by the same dictionary as “A petty politician; a pretender to politics.”

Many today fall into the latter category in Africa’s political landscape. When people take what is not theirs to take from the state at the expense of the public good, it is usually because they are afraid that without that political office, they cannot secure that which they took on their own. Its FEAR. Corruption is rooted in fear, insecurity and pride.

Returning to intra-continental trade, crafting policies to improve intra-regional trade that do not take into account this sordid past and remedying its consequences is akin to placing a plaster on a deep wound without treating it. Such a solution will not last. There should be a way of building TRUST between African tribes, ethnic groups, political parties, countries etc. Religious entities would have been in the best position to do this in a very religious Africa, however, even in this sphere of influence MISTRUST is the order of the day.

PRIDE

If mistrust is a subset of FEAR, what then is the role of PRIDE in this matter? Pride is manifested in Africa’s various types of racism. Racism? Oh yes, racism? It goes by many names within Africa but they are all forms of racism. Examples include Xenophobia [South Africa comes to mind], Ethnic Cleansing [Rwanda comes to mind], Religion motivated slaughters [North and South Nigeria / Boko Haram come to mind], Tribalism [Ghana comes to mind] etc. etc. There even exists racism between dark skinned and light skinned Africans. The list goes on and on.

All the above are a manifestation of pride—the idea that one group believes they are superior to another, the idea that one group is more entitled to a right to life than others. For some Africans, it is easier to trust colonial masters they look up to than to trust Africans they deem less than themselves. What a sad state of affairs. After the US successful coup defat in Libya that has left the once prosperous country lawless, we now have a situation where dark skinned Africans are abducted and sold in slave markets in Libya by light skinned African Arabs. Is this not racism at its worst?

CONCLUSION

The lowest level of intra-continental trade is simply symptomatic of a broader problem rooted in fear and pride.

While considering all the academic reasons for this, leaders should also think outside the box and see if there are ways to minimise or mitigate the FEAR and PRIDE factors. The Gacaca courts of Rwanda and other such systems may help us find elements that work when it comes to properly burying the hatchet, healing past wounds and moving forward. This document does not hold the answers but tries to show that maybe we have not been looking at all the symptoms holistically. 

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UNDERSTANDING THE USED CLOTHES BAN IN THE EAC

An Appeal to President Trump.

The East African Community (EAC) in a bid to improve the economic livelihood of the citizens and the region decided to phase out imports of used clothing while boosting the local cotton and textile industry. The countries in this region like many other African nations import used clothing and shoes from mostly Western countries. In effect, African countries serve as the dumping ground of no-longer-needed clothing from the West as well as electronics and other hazardous waste.

Why Ban Used Clothing?

This relationship (importation of used clothing from the West by African countries) saves the West from having to properly dispose of these items at a cost. It also harms the local cotton and textile industry. But is that the only reason why importation is bad. No, there is more:

  1. Imports = foreign exchange leaving a country’s shores and going to exporting country
  2. Exports = foreign exchange coming into exporting country from importing country
  3. When African states import used clothing from the West, they serve as a disposal ground for used clothing from the West
  4. The West receives money from African states when they dump their used clothing in Africa

It’s a win-win situation for Western exporting countries and lose-lose from the African importing countries. There needs to be a leveling of the playing field.

The Response From The U.S.

The response from the US government to the decision of the ECA is as follows:

USTR Announces AGOA Out-of-Cycle Review for Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda

Washington, DC – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative today announced the initiation of an out-of-cycle review of the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda to receive benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The launch of the review is in response to a petition filed by the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), which asserts that a March 2016 decision by the East African Community, which includes Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, to phase in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear is imposing significant economic hardship on the U.S. used clothing industry.

Through the out-of-cycle review, USTR and trade-related agencies will assess the allegations contained within the SMART petition and review whether Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda are adhering to AGOA’s eligibility requirements.

A public hearing will take place July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. A Federal Register notice containing information related to this review is available at http://www.regulations.gov under docket number USTR-2017-0008.

This is known as soft power—meant to alter the behavior of African countries in favor of the U.S.’s economic interest which on other issues may be okay but in this case in particular is devoid of fairness, morality and reciprocity.

How does phasing in a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear, impose significant economic hardship on the U.S. used clothing industry? Have you considered the impact of this so-called industry on African industry? Have you considered how one-sided this relationship has been in favor of the U.S. all these decades—to the detriment of most sub-Saharan African nations?

In non-politically correct language, this is plain bullying. Paraphrased, what the U.S. government is saying, by giving this questionable petition a hearing and review is, “if you will not allow us to dump our old clothes in your countries, then we do not want to trade with you or offer you access to our markets”. This is incredibly childish of those who sent the petition. Africa is neither a colony of the West nor a dumping ground for used clothing. It is a group of independent states who are equal to any other and have the same rights to have the dreams and aspirations of their peoples actualized without fear. African governments should stand together and refuse the carrot and stick strategy—if they ever want to taste prosperity for their masses.

According to Mukhisa Kitui, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), adherence to the ban will create domestic demand for textiles and increase the share of manufactured exports.

“My home country Kenya, for example, imports Boeing planes from the US at a very high cost, so the reciprocity on trade should not be at the level of used clothes.

Therefore, East Africa should stand with one voice and resist importation of used clothes into the region,” he said, during the second Manufacturing and Business Summit at the Kigali Serena Hotel recently.

The forgoing was taken from here.

The following are the comments of an ex-president of Africa’s largest economy:

Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing Afreximbank Annual General Meeting in Kigali, Obasanjo said, as long as the move was in the country’s best interest, Rwanda should not be cowed.

“The country should do what is in their best interest and be unafraid to stand by it. The continent should always ask itself what is in our best interest. We should not be afraid to cut some ties if it is in our best interest,” he said.

EAC member countries have moved to phase out importation of used clothes and shoes as part of an industrialisation policy to give rise to the growth of the local textile industry.

As part of the move, Rwanda last year increased taxes on used clothes from $0.2 to $2.5 per kilogramme, while taxes on used shoes will increase from $0.2 to $3 per kilogramme.

In the 2017/18 Budget, the Government eased taxes on inputs to the Made-in-Rwanda campaign, which is expected to facilitate the growth of the local textile industry

Responses from EAC

In the face of threats, Rwanda continues to stand firm by the decision of the EAC with respect to the proposed ban but Kenya has retreated. The reason for this stance by Kenya is probably because of the volume of trade between the U.S. and Kenya. It remains to be seen how other members of the EAC will act in the face of U.S. threats.

Africa needs more Kagame’s who will say what they mean and mean what they say—sticking to their word—no matter the threat.

President Donald J. Trump

In the remarks of President Donald J. Trump in his inaugural address, to the America public and to “the people of the world”, he stated unequivocally that, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world – but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first“.

Mr. President, the response of the US government to the decision of the EAC in exercising the right to put their own interests first by phasing in a ban on the importation of used clothing is distasteful. It does not show that your administration seeks the good will of the EAC and the greater AU. The second hands goods from your country has hurting local industry across generations. It is a key barrier to the cotton planting in the area. It takes away much needed foreign exchange and in exchange provides citizens in this area with sub-standard clothing and shoes. There should be a way to push for America’s interests without harming that of other nations as some of your predecessors did.

I for one am happy that you won the election because I believe it means good things for our globe. But this step is a wrong step because it shows that you’d like to continue the perpetuation of the impoverishing of the world’s poorer populations. Please do not let this continue.

Do not allow the debris from the deep state to influence your policies towards Africa. Already there are news headlines such as, “Was Agoa always a poisoned chalice from the US?”. This is not how you want your administration to be remembered in academia and by the people of the world—specifically Africa. Harming African economies and initiatives will not promote growth thus making Agoa an oxymoron. Allow righteousness and justice to prevail. On the 13th of July when the review is being done, influence it for good. God bless America and the nations of Africa and the World.

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DAAD Public Policy and Good Governance Programme

In the updated DAAD PPGG Booklet, the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD (German: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) wrote an article about me—using my story to encourage prospective applicants on page 7. I am grateful for the kindness of the DAAD and the opportunity they granted me.

I am an alumnus of the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD—specifically its prestigious Public Policy and Good Governance (PPGG) Programme. I endorse it 100% for anyone interested in Politics, Governance, Leadership and International Relations.

The DAAD funded fully my Master of Public Policy degree with specializations in International Relations and Not-For-Profit Management at the University of Erfurt’s Willy Brandt School of Public Policy—a part of the Faculty of Economics, Law, and Social Sciences.

DAAD has been a blessing to me.

Since receiving my graduate education through DAAD, I have been privileged to work with international organizations as well as the government of my nation, Ghana. Below are some pictures that tell my story with DAAD.

For more on my experiences in Germany, click here.

For more on the PPGG program click here.

For updated PPGG Brochure, click here.

For more on the DAAD, see the following snippets from the internet:

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the largest German support organisation in the field of international academic co-operation.

The DAAD supports over 100,000 German and international students and researchers around the globe each year – making it the world’s largest funding organisation of its kind. The DAAD also promotes internationalisation efforts at German universities, help developing countries build their own systems of higher education, and support German Studies and German language programmes abroad. The DAAD’s Artists-in-Berlin Program is one of the most renowned international scholarship programmes for artists.

DAAD is a private, federally funded and state-funded, self-governing national agency of the institutions of higher education in Germany, representing 365 German higher education institutions (100 universities and technical universities, 162 general universities of applied sciences, and 52 colleges of music and art) [2003].

The DAAD itself does not offer programs of study or courses, but awards competitive, merit-based grants for use toward study and/or research in Germany at any of the accredited German institutions of higher education. It also awards grants to German students, doctoral students, and scholars for studies and research abroad.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the world’s largest funding organisation dedicated to promoting the international exchange of students and researchers. Its operating budget in 2015 totalled approximately 471 million euros. Its most important funding providers include the Federal Foreign Office – AA (39%), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research – BMBF (23%), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – BMZ (10%) and the European Union – EU (18%).

The administrative budget of the DAAD is financed by the Federal Foreign Office and totalled 24 million euros in 2015. The sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany are responsible for covering the tuition costs of the foreign scholarship holders. Other sponsors include foreign governments, companies, foundations and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

Africa Must Industrialize Now

This piece was originally published by Solomon Appiah on the Fair observer Platform on January 12, 2014.

In order to make its current growth sustainable, Africa must rethink its economic focus.

In 2013, a major policy discourse within and between the supranational bodies that influence policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa was the industrialization of the continent. These bodies include, but are not limited to, the African Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Industrialization is defined as: “The process in which a nation or continent transforms itself from a primarily agricultural society into one based on the manufacturing of goods and services.” During the trans-Atlantic slave trade and later the colonial era, Africa supplied raw materials and labor for the industrial development of Europe and North America. This practice continues until today. Much of sub-Saharan Africa still has a high dependence on primary products, exporting much of its raw materials without adding value to them while importing manufactured goods.

The crux of the continent’s development narrative is how to leverage the current economic growth in the region, in addition to other favorable conditions, as a bridge to help facilitate industrial development.

Economic Growth and Value Addition

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the economic indicator, is defined by the World Bank as: “[The] sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products.” Economic growth is linked to creating value by adding value to a nation’s raw or intermediate materials.

Unfortunately, however, adding value to sub-Saharan Africa’s own natural resources has not been a strength of the continent. In spite of this, the World Bank Africa’s Pulse and the IMF World Economic Outlook (WEO) state that the economies of sub-Saharan Africa have, since the late 1990s to 2013, been experiencing consistent economic expansion. Six of the world’s fastest growing economies are currently within this region. Whereas economic growth slumped for most of the world in recent years, sub-Saharan Africa’s growth has stayed resilient right through the global recession.

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook for October 2013 estimates that 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will experience GDP growth greater than or equal to 6%. It forecasts 15 more countries to experience economic growth of 4-6% — meaning 31 out of the total 45 countries analyzed in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to experience economic growth greater than or equal to 4%. This is significant when one considers that the growth of advanced economies in the same period is forecasted to be 1.2%.

The reasons suggested for the economic growth are many. According to Bretton Woods Institutions, much of the growth is a result of increased world commodity prices. The 2013 Africa progress report concurs and enumerates other reasons for the growth such as improved macroeconomic policies, increased investment in infrastructure, institutional development, the deepening of financial systems, and rising productivity.

Africa Must Industrialize

As the current economic growth did not result from value addition and increased manufacturing, but instead from increases in world commodity prices, it makes the region susceptible to commodity price volatility. If commodity prices fall, Africa’s impressive economic growth might grind to a halt — thus, the dire need for diversification through industrialization. Even if commodity prices stay high, natural resources are not infinite and they must be managed with sagacity.

As recommended by the 2013 Africa Progress report, it is advantageous for African governments to fully implement the Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA) plan, signed in 2008 in Addis-Ababa. The AIDA is a comprehensive framework for achieving the industrialization of the continent. If Africa can successfully steward its natural resource wealth, investing it wisely and using some to industrialize, then whether the resources run out or not or whether commodity prices fall, Africa would be on a good economic footing.

Moreover, not only will industrialization create the environment for adding value to Africa’s natural resources, but it will also provide much needed employment at various stages of the value adding chain for Africa’s 1.1 billion people — leading to wealth creation.

Industrialization will address many development gaps in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of these gaps, as noted in a UNECA Southern Africa Office Expert Group Meeting Report, include:

  1. Africa’s high dependence on primary products
  2. Low value addition to commodities before exports
  3. High infrastructure deficit
  4. High exposure to commodity price volatility
  5. Limited linkage of the commodities sector to the local economy
  6. Poorly developed private sector, which is highly undercapitalized
  7. Limited commitment to implement industrial policies
  8. Limited investment in R&D, science, innovation and technology
  9. Low intra-Africa trade
  10. Slow progress towards strengthening regional integration
  11. The Time is Now

Is Africa Ready?

The answer is an emphatic yes. The phenomenal growth is one reason why Africa is ready, but growth on its own is not enough. Other conditions need to be considered: Does the continent have access to enough raw materials for production? What is the proximity of these natural resources to the continent? Is there adequate land, labor, and capital? These are the traditional factors of production or inputs to the production process.

Yes, Africa has access to the raw materials necessary for production. Unlike already industrialized nations who have to import raw materials from Africa and elsewhere over long distances, Africa enjoys close proximity to these resources.

With regards to the factors of production, Africa is the world’s second largest continent and therefore is home to plenty of land — most of which is arable.

Africa is also the world’s second most populous continent. The average age of an African in Africa is under 19 years. This means Africa has enough manpower or labor to industrialize.

Capital refers to man-made products used in the production process such as buildings, machinery and tools. Africa does have a measure of this, but instead needs to do more in this area — hence the need for greater infrastructural and skills development. In fact, African policymakers as well as their counterparts in the developed world should realize that it is high time for a shift in the nature of aid to the continent — from primarily monetary aid to the type of capital aid needed for industrialization.

Finally, when Africa successfully undergoes industrial development, its huge populace will serve as a market for the outputs of its production processes; any excess supply can be exported and swapped for foreign exchange. Africa is ready and the time for it to industrialize is now.

Ghana Prisons Council Discuss Prisons with New U.S. Ambassador to Ghana

From L to R, Sup Charles Ameyaw (Secretary to Council), Solomon Appiah (Council Member – President’s Nominee), Mr Emmanuel Yao Adzator (Acting Director General of Prisons Service), Nana Baffour Okumanin (Prisons Council – President’s Nominee ), Ambassador Robert Porter Jackson (US Ambassador to Ghana), Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam (Chairman of Prisons Council), Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong (Council Member representing religious bodies), Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei (Council Member representing Ghana Medical Association), Mr Samuel Amankwah (Council Member representing Ministry of the Interior) and Director of Prisons LKA Ansah (Council Member representing superior officers)

Robert Porter Jackson was sworn in November 30, 2015 as President Obama’s new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana—taking over from Gene A. Cretz—after the U.S. Senate confirmed Ambassador Jackson’s nomination on October 22, 2015.

The 6th Ghana Prisons Service Council led by Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam paid a courtesy call on him & his outfit to discuss amongst other issues Project Efiase, corrections reform, rehabilitation and public safety on February 26, 2016. The Council had paid a courtesy call on his predecessor as well. The fruit of discussions thus far include donation of sewing machines received from the Embassy in 2015 and capacity building courses in Colorado and Florida for senior and middle level managers of the Ghana Prisons Service in 2015 and 2016.

Ghana has for decades enjoyed a measure of peace, stability and public safety. This is the reason many international organizations locate their African headquarters in Ghana. But that reality seems to be in danger of being jeopardized with the steady increase of crime in recent years. Recently an ex-convict murdered a member of parliament. This is unprecedented in Ghana’s history. Part of the reason for the increase in ex-convict related crime is that, due to a lack of resources, instead of rehabilitating inmates, some of Ghana’s prisons have become institutions of higher learning for criminal activities. Rehabilitation is hampered by several factors, some of which include inadequate classification of inmates for treatment, spatial challenges, and the lack of purpose built infrastructure for taking custody of various categories / classifications of prisoners. Remand inmates (pre-trial) are sometimes lumped together with convicted criminals. The Service also lacks workshops etc for training activities. Tackling the issue of rehabilitation will undoubtedly impact favorably on public safety but this is expensive and the government though trying its best cannot do it alone hence the need for Project Efiase. This and many other pertinent issues were discussed with the newly appointed ambassador who has an impressive resume summarized in the next section.

At his swearing-in ceremony, the ambassador had the following to say about his new posting to Ghana. As per a Press Release from the U.S. Embassy Ghana,

[My wife] Babs and I are excited about moving to Ghana, one of the leading democracies on the African continent, with active political parties and civil society organizations, a lively media, a history of peaceful political transitions, an apolitical military, and a good human rights record.

As Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, I intend to build on what I have learned over the last 33 years … about building partnerships. My priorities will be to promote strong institutions, good governance, peace, trade, education, and health, unlocking Ghana’s potential for sustained, inclusive, broad-based economic growth and helping it graduate from traditional development assistance.

Three years from now … I trust we will say that the relationship is stronger than ever and that together the United States of America and the Republic of Ghana have each benefited from our friendship, commerce, engagement and exchanges”.

Prior Appointments

His former portfolio includes:

  • U.S. Department of State’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs since October 2013.
  • Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon – 2010 to 2013
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Rabat, Morocco
  • Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Dakar, Senegal
  • Political/Economic Counselor, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Political-Military Officer, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Chief of the Political Section, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Political/Economic Officer in Bujumbura, Burundi
  • Consular/Economic Officer in Montreal, Canada

Other Appointments

Director of the Office for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy

Country Officer for Zimbabwe, Botswana and Nigeria

Coordinator of the Entry-Level Officer Training Program and Deputy Director of the Orientation Division at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute.

As per the press release, Ambassador Jackson earned his M.S. in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University, his M.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and his B.A. in Government and Legal Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Ambassador Jackson speaks French and Portuguese

Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz

Members of the Prisons Council meeting with former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz

Project Efiase & 2015 mid-year budget review

Finance Minister with HE John Dramani Mahama on historic presidential visit to Nsawam Priosn

Finance Minister with HE John Dramani Mahama on historic presidential visit to Nsawam Priosn

Today was read the STATEMENT of THE MID-YEAR REVIEW of the BUDGET STATEMENT AND ECONOMIC POLICY and SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES of the GOVERNMENT OF GHANA for the 2015 FINANCIAL YEAR presented to PARLIAMENT on TUESDAY, 21ST JULY, 2015 by SETH E. TERKPER, MINISTER FOR FINANCE on the Authority of H. E. JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA.

Under section 33, the minister made mention of Project Efiase. He stated:

Recall His Excellency’s visit to the Nsawam Prisons after participating in the Efiase Project. As he observed, it is another area of supreme humanitarian need that requires Government action. Every effort is being made by relevant MDAs to reprioritize expenditures to complement the promise of GH¢50 million assistance to enable us respond to these needs appropriately. Plans are also being put in place, including the alignment of IGFs and statutory funds to mitigate the risk of similar future disasters.

The Honourable minister forgot to qualify the President’s visit as historic—leading the way for the US President to do same on July 17 i.e. two full weeks AFTER President Mahama’s Nsawam Prison visit. But that aside, it is gratifying to note that Project Efiase was launched by H. E. John Dramani Mahama President of the Republic of Ghana under the auspices of the 6th Prisons Council. As the chair of the planning committee for this project, the above statement by our finance minister reassures my hope that this project well supported by government, the private sector as well as ordinary well meaning citizens … and also well implemented by the Prisons Service who will be guided by the 10-year strategic development plan, has the potential to transform the fortunes of inmates, officers and the Prisons Service as a whole—making it a beacon of correctional and reformational excellence within our globe.

His Excellency nailed it when he describes the need in our prisons as ‘supreme humanitarian’ and in need of action and it is good to know that every effort is being made and plans being put in place to galvanize tangible government support.

Full statement of the minster is available for download here: 2015-Mid-Year-Review-Speech-210715

Project Efiase: Improving Public Safety

Made in prisons by prisoners through Skills Devt prgrams

Made in prisons by prisoners through Skills Devt prgrams

By Solomon Appiah

Member, 6th Prisons Council

Chairman, Project Efiase Planning Committee

Email: connect@solomonappiah.com

Twitter: @s_apiah

Efiase is the Akan word for Prison. Project Efiase is about bringing transformation to Ghana’s Prisons Service, educating the public about the current state of its prisons and sensitize the public about the importance of the Prisons Service to public safety. It is also about advocating to corporate entities that the Prisons Service is open to business via public Private Partnerships. Finally, Project Efiase is a fundraiser. All the above is needed to initiate transformation. It costs money to rehabilitate people so that when the re-enter society, they do not endanger public safety.

According to a June 2001 U.S. Department of Justice paper by Michael E. Smith via the National Institute of Justice, “public safety is best conceived as the condition of a place, at times when people in that place are justified in feeling free of threat to their persons and property.” Public safety is threatened when a society cannot adequately treat its offenders and they are released back into society worse than they entered the prisons. Treatment here is with regards to reformation and rehabilitation.

As part of the nation’s Criminal Justice System, the role of a well functioning Prisons Service in the maintenance of public safety cannot be over-emphasized. The Service does not only take safe custody of convicted persons but also persons awaiting trial—some of these having to spend multiple years on remand. By the time some of these have been released they have picked up negative skills to the detriment of ordinary peace loving Ghanaians.

To adequately reform, there is need for adequate and suitable infrastructure, skills development machines and training for officers. On the infrastructure front, the reason why there is need for purpose built spacious prisons include the fact that when a person is delivered to the Prisons Service by a court of competent jurisdiction, prison officers must assess this person, classify them and then take safe custody of them based on their classification so they can be assigned suitable types and levels of treatment. But this is not currently the case.

In 1850, there were prisons cells in some four forts, holding a maximum of 129 prisoners. By 1948, there were twenty-nine prison establishments all over the country. Today there are 43 prisons around the nation. Of this number, only 3 prisons were purposely built as prisons. The other 40 were inherited from business or government entities—many dating back to colonial times.

The Yeji Prison used to be an abandoned clinic. The Winneba Prison was formerly a warehouse of a business concern dating back to colonial times. The Koforidua Prison used to be an armory in colonial times. The Kumasi Prison was built in 1946. The Prisons at Kenyasi and Dua Yaw N’kwanta were given to the Prisons Service by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gift of land at Kenyasi came with a solitary structure which the Service had to secure and eventually expand to house prisoners. Some of our prisons are even built of mud. The fact that many prisons were not originally meant for this purpose is also contributory to the acute congestion challenge in our prisons. The infrastructural deficit is a perennial challenge that spans various government Administrations since independence and limits successful classification and treatment programmes aimed at reformation and rehabilitation. It is only when prisoners are rehabilitated that they cease to be a threat to public safety upon their release from incarceration.

The government has given lots of Ghana Cedis towards the completion of Ghana’s first and only maximum security prison as well as helping to refurbish many other prison establishments around the country but government alone cannot solve all the challenges which bedevil the Service and has been compounding since colonial times from one administration to another—hence the need for Project Efiase which is the Prison’s Council’s attempt to reach out to the private sector as well as other well meaning Ghanaians to support Ghana’s Prisons administration.

Inmates for a long while used to be fed on GHc0.80 for breakfast, lunch and supper. This sum included the contractor’s profit margin. The current government administration has tripled this amount. It has also given the Service ambulances for their work.

But even with all the assistance the service receives from government, there is still much need.

Many of the Service’s workshops which if fully functional could aid in reform through skills training are stocked with machinery inherited from the colonial times. Because of insufficient space and dietary requirements, prisons have become incubators of diseases.

Though the Prisons Service are custodians of much land, they are handicapped to use much of it for agriculture or other useful gain because of the lack of irrigation, farming implements, machinery and storage facilities needed for large scale faming. Transportation to ferry prisoners to these lands and back to their cells is also lacking.

With the human resource at its disposal, if properly resourced, the Prisons Service could make a noticeable contribution to Ghana’s agriculture and economy.

So what again is Project Efiase?

It is the Prisons Service Council’s outreach to society in general to assist with making Ghana’s prisons centers for reformation, rehabilitation and productivity—not just incapacitation, deterrence and retribution. Project Efiase is not a one-time event but hopefully a lifetime project that will see immense change in Ghana’s Prison Service.

The former are much better for a nation’s internal security and public safety.

The Service has developed a 10-year strategic plan for the transformation and it aims to support this plan by generating funds to implement the plan.

The Prisons Service Council appeals to corporations and citizens alike to give financially to Project Efiase. Kitiwa bia nsua, loosely translated ‘No amount is too little’. Large donations are also welcome.

If corporations and persons may not be able to give donations but can give work contracts to the Prisons Service, this is also welcome. The Service builds excellent structures. It has architects, surveyors, masons etc. Some structures built by the Prison Service include the Prisons Officers Mess, School blocks as well as the parade grounds at the Senior Corrections Center. It also builds furniture, sews uniforms and smocks, weaves Kente, makes sandals, shoes, handbags and moulds pottery to mention a few.

Low risk inmates can be hired out for manual labour and cleaning exercises under the guard of officers.

Visit the Prisons headquarters or our prisons establishments to see firsthand what the Service is capable of. See sample below. What the Service lacks is opportunity and that’s why the Prisons Council is soliciting your assistance. Help us make a difference! Help us make Ghana a much safer society.

Project Efiase: Funding Rehabilitation for a Better Future

19361804236_f3b8927722_oThe challenges facing the Prisons Service are varied. Many are interlinked and will require money to solve. Fortunately for the present Prisons Council, its predecessors and the Prisons Service Directorate have done a good job of identifying these challenges, and going a step further to come up with a 10-year Strategic Development Plan to resolve them. In a spirit of continuity, the present Prisons Service Council under the Chairmanship of Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengam has taken upon itself the task to help fund the implementation of the 10-year Strategic Development Plan. To do this, the Council launched Project Efiase on June 30, 2015 at the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Project Efiase is an advocacy drive showing Ghanaians the plight of the prisoners and officers. It is also an invitation to the corporate world that Ghana’s prisons are willing to engage in public private partnerships. It is also a fundraiser targeting ordinary Ghanaians and corporate Ghana soliciting their assistance in the transformation of Ghana’s prisons. But why should ordinary Ghanaians help? What do they stand to benefit by supporting Project Efiase? Are our prisons not government’s responsibility? What is it doing about the challenges facing prisons?

This article will address these questions and more but first let us address the following. Why do we imprison people in the first place and what type of persons end up in Ghana’s prisons?

Why do we imprison people?

A nation can rise or fall based on the state of its prisons system.

People are sentenced to prison for four basic reasons according to Connie Clem. The first is incapacitation which is “the concept that putting an offender in a secure facility prevents him/her from victimizing the public again”. The second is deterrence which refers to “the concept that knowing that someone else was punished for a crime will make another person less likely to commit the same crime”. The third reason why we imprison people is retribution and refers to the “concept that an offender who serves time is paying society back for the harm done in the crime”. The fourth and final reason is rehabilitation which refers to “the concept of providing treatment (such as addiction treatment) and programs (such as education and job skills training) to boost the likelihood that an inmate will not return to crime when he or she is released back to the community”.

Rehabilitation has the highest usefulness to society. It treats and reorients the offender in such a way that it reduces the likelihood of them returning to a life of crime when released. In Ghana though, we have a history since colonial times of funding anything but rehabilitation. The system and limitations of physical structures are such that it makes treatment via rehabilitation difficult.

Rehabilitation though initially costly financially speaking, is in the long run cheaper financially and socially—and much safer for society at large. The other 3 only serve to further harden convicts who invariably return to a life of crime after being released. These folks feel they have nothing to lose so they are usually more dangerous when they re-offend. Furthermore when ex-convicts reoffend, the state will again have to bear the burden of their feeding, clothing and housing. It is therefore in society’s best interest to shift from funding solely retribution to funding reform and rehabilitation.

Who ends up in Ghana’s prisons? The simple answer is anyone. It houses both convicts and people awaiting their day in court for crimes they may or may not have committed.

Why is it difficult to reform Prisoners in Ghana?

Lack of funding, poor infrastructure, lack of space, lack of tools for skills development implementation programs for prisoners, lack of training for officers, are all reasons why reformation and rehabilitation in Ghana’s prisons is difficult.

For starters, infrastructure is a huge challenge. The Prisons Service has 45 establishments or buildings—43 of which serve as prisons. Of the 43, only 3 were built for the purpose of serving as prisons by the Ghana government. Of the 3, one is still in the process of being constructed, that is Ghana’s only maximum security prison. The other 40 were not originally built as prisons.

The Yeji Prison used to be an abandoned clinic. The Winneba Prison was formerly a warehouse of a business concern dating back to colonial times. The Koforidua Prison used to be an armory in colonial times. The Kumasi Prison was built in 1946. The Prisons at Kenyasi and Dua Yaw N’kwanta were given to the Prisons Service by the Ministry of Agriculture. The gift of land at Kenyasi came with a solitary structure which the Prisons Service had to secure and eventually expand to house prisoners. Some of Ghana’s prisons are even built of mud. The fact that many prisons were not originally built for this purpose is contributory to the acute congestion challenge in the prisons. The infrastructural deficit is a perennial challenge that spans various government Administrations all the way to independence era and limits successful classification and treatment programmes e.g. reformation and rehabilitation programmes.

Another reason why it is difficult to reform prisoners is lack of training and tools for officers. The machines in some of our prisons workshops which are supposed to be used to give inmates skills date back to the colonial era.

How about all the land that the Prisons Service has access to? Can they not be farmed and proceeds sold to generate funding for the Service? It’s a great idea however there are some hindrances to implementation.

Though the Prisons Service does have an Agricultural Division that does undertake farming activities in various locations around the country on about 1,000 acres of land combined, it has difficulty doing more than this for a number of reasons. Many of Ghana’s prisons are not in close proximity to the lands they could use for farming. Vehicles are needed to convey prisoners to these lands and back but the Prisons service currently suffers from a severe lack of vehicles. Even if the vehicles were available, prison officers at present are not given guns. With no firearms, it is not wise to take a bus load of prisoners to a wide acreage of land for farming. Farming on a large scale requires tractors and other farming machinery as well as irrigation equipment that reduces dependency on erratic rainfall. The Prisons Service is bereft of these. Assuming all the aforementioned challenges are met and the Prisons Service were able to farm thousands of acres and had a bumper harvest from its Agricultural endeavors, what would it do with surplus produce after selling some and using some to cook for inmates and officers and their families? The vast majority would probably rot. Another more nuanced challenge is feeding. At present, prisoners are fed on GHc1.80 for breakfast, lunch and supper. This includes the contractor’s profit margin. The kind of meal to be provided by such a sum is hardly energy giving enough to expect prisoners to work on large acreage of land.

Notwithstanding all the above mentioned limitations, the Prisons Service has done a commendable job of farming close to 1,000 acres.

Where is Government in all of this?

Are the prisons the responsibility of government? The answer is YES! Does government assist the work of the Prisons Service? The answer is YES again. How so?

First of all, the monies used to take care of the entire Prisons Service and inmates come entirely from government coffers.

Not too long ago, the feeding rate given by government to the service to feed inmates was GHc0.60. The present government administration has tripled the feeding rate of inmates.

Government through GETFund has provided for the building of school blocks for inmates interested in the SSCE examinations. The Wa block is complete while the one at Nsawam is 85 percent complete. Last year the inmates who sat for SSCE had a 100 percent pass rate. They sat for these exams under the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling (CENDLOS) an initiative of government which provides learning opportunities to increase access to education at all levels.

Government has provided ICT Centres in all the Central Prisons in Ghana for inmates to upgrade their ICT skills. Government through National Security donated money for the Bawku prison. There are plans to build a new prison at Bolgatanga. Through a collaboration with the Ghana government, the British High Commission gave a grant of GBP485,000 to the Ghana Prisons Service. Some of this grant has been used to buy two buses, renovate parts of the Nsawam Medium Security Prison as well as refurbish a building into a court near the Nsawam prison facility.

What else is government doing? The 1992 Constitution states that there should be a parole system which up until now has not been implemented. The current government administration is working on doing this as well as working on the possibility of introducing non-custodial sentencing as part of our legal system. This will go a long way to reducing the congestion in the prisons. The Government is also reviewing the Prisons Act.

Furthermore, the President has pledged his support for Project Efiase, an initiative of the Prisons Council. He has promised to top up whatever amount of money is raised via this project.

He has also promised to visit the prisons with the Council—making him the first sitting president to do so—to acclimatize himself with the conditions firsthand.

In summary, the government is working to improve conditions in Ghana’s prisons but the challenges span different administrations and have accumulated sine colonial times. Government alone cannot solve all the perennial challenges of the Prisons Service hence the need for Project Efiase.

The Way forward – Project EfiasePRISONS PRESS_CMYK

Project Efiase is a fund raising project—the Prisons Service Council’s outreach to ordinary Ghanaians to assist with making Ghana’s prisons centers for reformation, rehabilitation and productivity—not just incapacitation, deterrence and retribution.

Government is doing is part. Efiase is a call to the ordinary Ghanaian and corporate Ghana to also support this national security agency that forms such a significant part of Ghana’s Criminal Justice System.

The population of Ghana is estimated to be about 24 million people. Assuming 18 million of us decided to give GHc1 per month towards Project Efiase, that would still be insufficient to meet the total infrastructural, transportation, health, feeding and skills training needs of the Prisons Service but it would be a good starting point.

Together, let’s move from purely deterrence, incapacitation and retribution to reformation and rehabilitation. The latter will lead to a safer, more prosperous Ghana.

Professor Emmanuel Asante: Service to the Prisoner Is Service to Jesus

At the Induction Service of the 6th Prisons Council of Ghana, the third presiding bishop of the Methodist church, Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante had the following words of admonition for the Council Members:

Introduction

On this great Sunday when we have gathered to induct into office the distinguished members of the Ghana Prison Council, I would like to do a reflection on the theme: Service to the Prisoner is Service to Jesus. To provide a biblical grounding to this theme, I would like to begin with the following abridged version of a story, which a friend posted to me:

A lady received an EMS letter, the signatory of which letter was Jesus. The content indicated that Jesus was going to be in her neighbourhood on a Saturday afternoon and would like to pay the lady a visit.

Her hands shaking and wondering why Jesus would want to visit her since she was a nobody special and had nothing to offer, she made feverish preparation with the little she had in expectation of her august visitor. She prepared a turkey sandwich and got ready in anticipation of her visitor.

A few minutes after she heard a knock at her door. Her heart leapt and she ran to open the door. To her dismay stood in front of the door a man and a woman shabbily dressed in a little more than rags. “Please lady I am unemployed and so is my wife. We have been on the streets. We are hungry. Can you give us something to eat? They were dirty; they smelled bad and appeared like people who had done some terms in prison. It even seemed like they were on drugs.

The lady answered the couple: “”I would like to help you, but I’m a poor woman. All I have I have reserved for an important visitor.” The man said to the woman: “Yeah, well lady I understand. Thanks anyway.” The couple turned and headed back to the street. As the woman watched them go, she felt disturbed in her spirit. So she said to them: “Please wait.” They turned and the woman gave them the turkey sandwich she had prepared for Her august visitor, Jesus. As she was thinking about what she would do when her august visitor arrived, the postman came again with another mail. The content read: “Thanks for the turkey sandwich. You were a blessing to me when I visited.” Signed Jesus.

Beloved this story brings us to the message of our Gospel reading this morning: Mt. 25: 31-40. Beloved the message is that it is as we serve the poor, the sick, the needy, and the outcasts and incarcerated, the prisoner that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us are waiting for Jesus to appear to do service to him. Well Jesus is in the hospitals; He is on the streets. Beloved Jesus is in our various prisons. As you serve the prisoners you serve Jesus. It means that we must serve our prisoners as we would serve the Lord if He were here with us.

The State of our Prisoners

Often people go into prison with many concerns about home and family and about their own future. Many have fears about what the Prison holds for them, whether they can survive or if there is any future for them after they had done their terms and had been released from the prison custody.

It has been observed by David Blunkett that the vast majority of offenders are in jail because they have been exploited in one way or another. Many are in prison today because they were exploited by the powerful in relation to the drug trade. Some are there as they struggled to simply survive in our highly competitive, harsh and unfriendly world. Many are poor, homeless and hopeless. Others are rootless and many unemployed. A large number suffer from some form of mental illness. Others feel that they have no stake in society and owe it nothing.

Young Offenders

The numbers of young offenders in our prisons are growing. These feel abandoned, have a sense of hopelessness and are dangerous both in Prison and outside.

Increasingly, the majority of those in prison custody “are poor; not simply economically but morally, spiritually, culturally, educationally and socially.” These have needs, which cannot be met by our present system.

I do not know how much it costs to keep a person in prison for just a week. I do believe, however, that imprisonment is an “expensive way of making people worse.” Many in prison will lose their jobs, accommodation or family as a result of doing a time in prison. The economic, social and psychological cost to those who are imprisoned cannot be measured in quantitative terms. Many who have done terms in prison loose their self-worth. The fact is that our present system lacks the capacity to meet the needs of those most impacted by crime. The alternative is Restorative justice as opposed to the Retributive justice.

Restorative Justice

Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Prof. Emmanuel Asante and Chief Justice

Methodist Church Presiding Bishop Prof. Emmanuel Asante and Chief Justice

Restorative justice works from the premise that crimes are to be viewed and considered less as violations against the State and more as violations against people. From the perspective of restorative justice, the important question is not “Who is to blame?’ but “How can we make things right for all concerned, the offender and the offended?” How can we make things right for people who have been seriously violated or for an offender who feels no sense of shame, guilt or responsibility? The criminal justice system centres on making sure that offenders are getting what they deserve. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of the offended, offenders and the community. It emphasizes the importance of participation by all who have been most impacted by the offence and gives all opportunity and empowerment to help in the process of making things right.

Distinguished Council members, you have come at a time when serious issues have been raised about custodial sentences, a time when there is ‘a steadily escalating sense of foreboding’ in relation to the overcrowding of our prisons. Have our prisons become Universities where inmates after doing terms become hardened criminals? Are we going to see strategic changes in our penal system? Are we going to see a prison system, which ensures that offenders are made fully aware of the damage they have caused individuals, themselves and families and friends and the community at large and that they are liable to repair the damage done? Are we going to have a system, which ensures that victims and offenders collectively resolve how to deal with the aftermath of the offence and its implications for the future?

Prison Officers

The work of the prison officer is not only demanding at every level but also very stressful. How do we address the emotional and psychological needs of our prison officers? And how do we build the capacities of the prison officers to ensure effective management of our prisons? Members of Council yours is a call to bring into being a new system of prison that will emphasize restorative justice. Our prison must not be places of incarceration but centers of restoration. This will call for a new Council with a strategic vision to provide transformative leadership to the Service; prison officers who are well-trained specialists and have the capacity to give restorative care service to the prison inmates. When our prisons go through such transformation, when they become Centres of restoration, service to the prisoner, which is service to Jesus Christ, would become a reality. Beloved, there can be no “shalom” in the sense of peace, justice and well being without the restoration of social, physical, and moral justice. It means that peace and justice are possible only when we care for one another, even in wrongdoing. Service to the prisoner is service to Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved let me draw your attention to this cardinal truth: Authentic transformation or restoration is possible only in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus came to set those who are in bondage to sin and evil free. We cannot bring restoration to our inmates without the intervention of God. In the letter to the Ephesians Chapter Two we read that before our experience of the gracious transformation of life in Christ, we were dead in transgressions and sins, in which also we used to live. We followed the ways of this world controlled by evil forces. We gratified the cravings of our sinful nature and followed its desires and thoughts. We were by nature objects of God’s wrath; we were enemies of God and friends of Satan, the evil one. But because of God’s great love for us, God who is rich in mercy and full of grace made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions and sins and saved us. God did all these for us so that we might engage in good works. The message here is that through transformation, authentic restoration is possible in Christ Jesus. Even though salvation is not based on our own good works; that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ transforms the believer’s life and disposes him or her to good works. Empirical points to the fact that hardened criminals have experienced transformation for the better through religious encounters. Faith in Christ Jesus can make a difference in our lives. The good works Christians do are the result and consequence of our salvation, which is God’s new creation work through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus. In our management of the prison service, let us place God at the centre.


6th Prisons Service Council Inaugurated


The video is the Induction Service of the newly inaugurated Prisons Service Council.

Mr. Solomon Appiah has been nominated by the President of Ghana to serve on the 6th Prisons Council. The 13-member Prisons Council is chaired by Rev. Dr. Stephen Wengan whom together with Nana Baffour Okumanin and Mr. Appiah are nominees of the President of Ghana.

Other members of the Council are Mr. Samuel Amankwah from the Ministry of the Interior, Ms. Matilda Baffour –Awuah Director General of Prisons, Mr. Dominic Ayine Attorney General’s Department, Mr. Amoako Adjei Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Sampson Nii Trebi, Nana Daasebre Kwebu Ewusi VII of the National House of Chiefs, Mr. Leopold K. A. Ansah, Mr Salisu Aduna, Dr. Kwabena Opoku-Adusei and Mr. Benson Tongo Baba.

The 1992 Constitution provides that, there shall be established a Prisons Service Council which shall consist of:

(a) the Vice-President, who shall be chairman;

(b) the Minister responsible for internal affairs;

(c) the Director-General of the Prisons Service;

(d) a medical practitioner nominated by the Ghana Medical Association;

(e) a lawyer nominated by the Ghana Bar Association;

(f) the Attorney-General or his representative;

(g) a representative of the Ministry of or department of state responsible for social welfare;

(h) a representative of such religious bodies as the President may, in consultation with the Council of State, appoint;

(i) two members of the Prisons Service appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State one of whom shall be of a junior rank;

(j) a representative of the National House of Chiefs; and

(k) two other members appointed by the President.

The Prisons Service Council shall advise the President on matters of policy relating to the organisation and maintenance of the prison system in Ghana including the role of the Prisons Service, prisons budgeting and finance, administration and the promotion of officers above the rank of Assistant Director of Prisons.

The Prisons Service Council may, with the prior approval of the President, by constitutional instrument, make regulations for the performance of its functions under this Constitution or any other law and for the effective and efficient administration of prisons and the Prisons Service.

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power to appoint persons to hold or to act in an office in the Prisons Service shall vest in the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prisons Service Council.