Environment, Science and Technology Minister, Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng has said, an agreement has been reached with RLG Limited to refund an amount of GHc6.3 million after the company failed to produce 12,733 laptops for the state. The company was awarded a contract to from government to procure 103,181 laptops for the state, and was paid GHc51, 257,500 to that effect. However, the Auditor General’s Department in a report suggested that only 90,448 laptops were provided by the company. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee, Prof. Frimpong Boateng said the company has agreed to refund the money although the agreement was not captured on paper. The Minister at the sitting said, “We want [an] outright payment… ideally, this amount should be paid with interest, but then there were going to pay the original amount without interest over a period of months or over a year, and we were not sure whether they will keep to their promise because they failed the Ministry many times in the past.” “The way forward as I had said, suggested that we write to them about the specifications, that should be a good start and we will communicate the response to the committee,” he told the Public Accounts Committee when asked the way forward in retrieving the money. According to the Auditor General’s Report, when the company was asked why it did not produce and distribute the remaining laptops, officials said there was no request by the Ministry to produce and distribute same, hence the outstanding number. Meanwhile, Rlg has challenged claims by the Environment, Science and Technology Minister that it owes government over ¢6 million for breaching a contract to supply a remaining 12,000 laptops to government. According to letters written by the company, some of which were cited by members of the Parliament Accounts Committee, Rlg insists it has honoured its obligation by supplying 3,000 higher spec laptops to make up for the 12,000 lower spec laptops it failed to supply under the free laptop distribution policy contract it signed with government in 2010.
The Zabzugu District Assembly has promised to immediately build a classroom block and a dining hall complex for the Zabzugu Senior High School to support the NPP government's educational flagship program, the “Free SHS”
This was made known by the DCE for Zabzugu, Hon. Ahmed Iddrisu Abubakar during the maiden Zabzugu District Assembly General meeting held in Zabzugu in the Northern Region yesterday, September 20, 2017.
According to the DCE, the project is to help absorb the rising number of students who are enrolling in the only Senior High School in the Zabzugu district, (Zabsec) since the initiation of the free SHS policy by the government.
“In view of the current inception of the free Senior High School, the Zabzugu District Assembly led by the DCE, in collaboration with the Presiding Member has taken it upon us to provide a classroom block to house the increased enrollment that we least anticipated”. He explained.
Mr. Adakwa as he is affectionately called, still on education, noted that there is the need to provide more basic schools in the rural areas to improve access to education by children of school going age in those areas. He was quick to add that in order to ensure quality education, accommodation and teaching materials must be provided for teachers teaching in the rural communities and as well motivate them(Teachers). These, he said, are part of his plans to provide accessible and quality education in his district.
Meanwhile, the Hon. DCE has revealed that the District Assembly is partnering with some Non-governmental Organizations to provide furniture and some medical equipment to the Zabzugu District Hospital and to also provide CHIPS compounds in communities that cannot have quick access to the hospital.
Hon. Abubakar further stated that an office space will be provided in the district to train youth with little or no skills in entrepreneurship. He also pledged to help procure motorbikes for Assembly Members in the district.
He however entreated all assembly members to lend him their full cooperation and to also engage their community members to actively participate in carrying out these activities.
By: Prince Kwame Tamakloe
President for the African Union of the Blind, Mr. Yaw Ofori Debrah who doubles as the President for Ghana Federation of the Disabled has disclosed on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that, he had the opportunity to read law at the University of Ghana but settled on Education at the University of Cape Coast.
He told Nat Sanfofa Tete Arthur in an interview that, growing up he conceptualized the idea of studying law but he gained admission into both universities but because of how bleak it was in the past for visually impaired persons to be employed, he had to settle on education.
He said, ‘’I had the intention to practice law…However I qualified and had admission to read law and also had admission to read education at Cape Coast and so I had to take a decision, in those days, prospects for the blind to get a job was bleak and dim. And so I decided to settle on teaching because the prospects were brighter,’’ he added.
He stressed that I decided to go into teaching because the prospects in those days were high but I must confess that I have not regretted going into teaching.
Mr. Debrah recounted the difficulty visually impaired persons had to go through in accessing higher learning due to the unavailability of facilities.
According to him, in his era, there had to sacrifice their sleep to type all lecture notes in braille before they could study.
He said, Ghanaians must give visually impaired persons who complete university education, a tap in the back due to the challenges and difficulties they encounter during their education.
The success of a visually impaired person should be the individual. You should be determined as a person with visual impairment to succeed no matter the challenges.
He encouraged visually impaired persons and other persons with physically impairment not to be discouraged but be determined.
He indicated that persons with severe impairment are from very deprived homes and are faced with serious challenges and has underscored the need for such individuals to be encouraged and supported.
He called on philanthropists, individuals, companies and other corporate organizations to assist the Federation in Ghana so they are able to extend their activities across the country.
United Nations (UN) Peace Ambassador Dr. Lawrence Tetteh has said we are only able to maintain peace in the world is to put a value on people.
The President and Founder of the Worldwide Miracle Outreach, believes that the fear of God and love for all is the surest way to maintain peace in the world.
Speaking to Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm he said, we need to love, respect and honour ourselves to ensure peace globally.
Peace he stressed can be created by everyone and it depend on the way we approach people or do things.
He was speaking in commemoration of the World Peace Day marked annually. He indicated that peace does not only depend on leadership but we individuals and if we take responsibility, and do the right thing, we will have peace.
According to him, we have neglected the principles that make peace and that is why we struggle with it. So it is very important we have a massive united front, collective responsibility where we will think about everybody’s welfare and not discriminate, undermine and not look down upon anybody. If we can give respect to all and sundry, we can enjoy the maximum peace we are looking for.’’
‘’We need to understand who and what we are so that we will not impeach things on anybody…’’
Senior Lecturer at the Finance Department of the University of Ghana, Mr. Lord Mensah has underscored the need for Africa to gradually wean itself from the motives of foreign aid.
He said African leaders should be conscious of the fact that, anything free comes with a hidden cost because the thing would be free today but you may not know the motive behind it tomorrow.
We have witnessed a situation where an aid given was used to fuel a civil war, he recounted.
He was responding to a call by President Akufo-Addo on African leaders who are participating in the UN General Assembly to wean themselves from the motives of aid.
He said, as a continent, we need to wean ourselves from aid. Gradually we can work ourselves from aid.
Africa is rich in terms of resources but lack the needed capacity, resources and technologies to tap into these resources and if we want to make good use of our resources we need to equitize our resources with anyone who intends to give us their resources and technology.
He was responding to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s speech he delivered at the UN General Assembly where he admonished African leaders to wean themselves from the motives of foreign aid.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo deserves commendation for his reiteration of his commitment to see Ghana beyond aid, Lord Mensah Senior Lecturer Finance Department, University of Ghana has said.
Speaking to Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm, Mr. Mensah admonished Ghanaians to support the president to achieve the goal of making Ghana a country beyond aid and dependency.
President Nana Addo delivering his message at the UN General Assembly said he was working hard to make Ghana a prosperous country.
The president his speech said, We want to build a Ghana which looks to the use of its own resources and their proper management as the way to engineer social and economic growth in our country. We want to build an economy that looks past commodities to position our country in the global marketplace.
We are not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard a mind-set of dependency and living on handouts; we want to build a Ghana beyond aid. It is an easier platform on which to build sustainable relationships.’’
Commenting on the statement by the president, Mr. Mensah said aids granted African countries, come with strong strings attached.
He said ‘’any country that accepts an aid refuse to think and those who grant us the aid, have motives and when they begin to make demands, we are unable to refuse them because of the aid granted us.’’
The statement from the president was laudable and so we need to move from aid because we are unable to think around and you are not able to tap into your capabilities, he said.
The call was great for Ghana and Africa. What we should understand is that, anything free comes with a hidden cost because it will be free today but you will never know what the strings attached would be. We need to wean ourselves from the motives from aid as a country and Africa…Gradually we can work towards aid free continent so we are able to make good use of our natural resources.’’
The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana has cautioned against the proliferation and abuse of Tramadol, an opioid analgesic.
“The most recent form, as being speculated in the media and as our findings have shown, is the high doses of Tramadol (200mg/250mg) popularly called Tramol among the youth.
“Even though Tramadol is an approved drug for the management of pain, the strengths approved for use in Ghana by the Food and Drugs Authority are the 50mg and 100mg strengths,” a statement signed by Benjamin K. Botwe, the President of the Society, and copied to the Ghana News Agencyon Thursday said.
It said the proliferation of the higher strength had become popular and called for coordinated efforts by all stakeholders to rid the markets of the unregistered and unapproved products, which had the tendency to threaten the gains made in the provision of healthcare in the country.
“As a Society, we are aware of the rampant abuse of this high strength product, especially in the Sahel Region, and the challenges regulatory agencies throughout the ECOWAS region are facing with regards to the distribution and sale of the product.
“These efforts are being supported by international agencies including the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.
“It has been noted in Ghana that this high dose of Tramadol is mostly found in highly populated and concentrated areas including markets and lorry stations in some parts of the country, “the statement said.
Tramadol is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe pain. When taken, it works on the nervous system and the brain to reduce the feeling of pain.
There are many different forms, strengths and brands of Tramadol. Some are immediate release formulations that start working immediately to ease the pain, while others are sustained or delayed release thus releasing the active moiety, tramadol more slowly, over several hours, to provide a constant and more even pain control.
The perception of good feeling that led to the abuse and misuse could lead to long term consequences such as weakness, sleepiness, insomnia, panic attacks and other symptoms of opioid dependence, the statement said.
He said in some cases, overdose of Tramadol may lead to difficulty in breathing and even death.
“We call on abusers turned addicts to seek help, and the youth who take it for recreation because of its euphoric effect to stop, as the long-term implication could have dire consequences on their health,” the statement said.
“Tramadol should only be taken on a medical doctor’s prescription,” it said.
Scientists have engineered an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and can prevent infection in primates.
It is built to attack three critical parts of the virus – making it harder for HIV to resist its effects.
The work is a collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
The International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough”. Human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infection.
Our bodies struggle to fight HIV because of the virus’ incredible ability to mutate and change its appearance.
There varieties of HIV – or strains – in a single patient are comparable to those of influenza during a worldwide flu season.
So the immune system finds itself in a fight against an insurmountable number of strains of HIV.
But after years of infection, a small number of patients develop powerful weapons called “broadly neutralising antibodies” that attack something fundamental to HIV and can kill large swathes of HIV strains.
Researchers have been trying to use broadly neutralising antibodies as a way to treat HIV, or prevent infection in the first place.
The study, published in the journal Science, combines three such antibodies into an even more powerful “tri-specific antibody”.
Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer at Sanofi and one of the report authors, told the BBC News website: “They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that’s been discovered.”
The best naturally occurring antibodies will target 90% of HIV strains.
“We’re getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody,” said Dr Nabel.
Experiments on 24 monkeys showed none of those given the tri-specific antibody developed an infection when they were later injected with the virus.
Dr Nabel said: “It was quite an impressive degree of protection.”
The work included scientists at Harvard Medical School, The Scripps Research Institute, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Clinical trials to test the antibody in people will start next year.
Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, the president of the International Aids Society, told the BBC: “This paper reports an exciting breakthrough.
“These super-engineered antibodies seem to go beyond the natural and could have more applications than we have imagined to date.
“It’s early days yet, and as a scientist I look forward to seeing the first trials get off the ground in 2018.
“As a doctor in Africa, I feel the urgency to confirm these findings in humans as soon as possible.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was an intriguing approach.
He added: “Combinations of antibodies that each bind to a distinct site on HIV may best overcome the defences of the virus in the effort to achieve effective antibody-based treatment and prevention.”
The founders of iWatch Africa Project have highlighted the critical need for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill to make information more accessible to the public to ensure accountability and transparency.
They said one of the lessons learnt during their one-month project was the challenge in accessing critical information for their reviews.
“One of the lessons learnt is that, public officials are not very forthcoming when critical information is needed,” said Mr Gideon Sarpong, Co-Founder of Policy and Content Analysis at iWatch Africa.
The Project aims at putting a spotlight on government’s promises and monitoring their implementation in communities across Ghana to get more citizens involved in governance in order to hold their leaders accountable, spearheaded by a group of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Mr. Sarpong, at the closing and evaluation session of the Project, lauded its impact in offering citizens the opportunity to objectively assess the performance of the government through its unified gauge accountability reports.
This, he said, would deepen the democratic process in Ghana, adding that the Project would continue to assess government’s commitments in the 2017 Budget Statement.
The Project reviewed commitments in Health, Education, Government Expenditure and Job Creation during the one month period.
“We look forward to expanding our focus areas to include procurement and SOEs in 2018,” Mr Sarpong said.
He raised concerns about the management of the public purse, which he said was not encouraging after review of several reports by the Auditor General.
“The attorney general has a mandate to recover all monies that were illegally expended,” he noted.
Mr. Sarpong said the iWatch Africa Team was engaging the Ministry of Information to find ways of addressing some of the challenges that they faced during the Project, especially with regard to access to information.
He added that they were also liaising with the Ghana Integrity Initiative on the way forward and how to sustain and scale up the Project in the future.
Ms. Sara V. Stealy, the Press Attaché at the United States’ Embassy in Ghana, commended the team for their hard work and said the focus areas tied in with the Embassy’s work in Ghana.
The use of digital media, including social media on the Project was good for shining the light on the issues identified.
She added that the work of the team represented former President Barack Obama’s vision for the YALI Project.
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, together with eight other African Heads of State, on Wednesday, 20th September, 2017, at the side-lines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, held talks with the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, on US-African relations.
The 8 Heads of State present at the meeting were President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, President Alasanne Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Alpha Conde of Guinea, who is also Chairperson of the African Union, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and President Hage Geingob of Namibia.
In his remarks, President Trump noted that in the 8 African leaders gathered at the meeting, “I see partners for promoting prosperity and peace on a range of economic, humanitarian, and security issues”.
The US President indicated further that his administration is committed to extending partnerships with the 9 countries, because they “are committed to self-reliance and to fostering opportunities for job creation in both Africa and the United States.”
Of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, President Trump noted that six are in Africa, and, thus, increasing American trade and investment across diverse industries — including agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, travel, and tourism — will further transform lives throughout Africa.
He reiterated the commitment of the United States to partner with countries and organizations, like the African Union, that lead successful efforts to end violence, to prevent the spread of terrorism, and to respond to humanitarian crises.
“Terrorist groups, such as ISIS, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, and al Qaeda also threaten African peace. The United States is proud to work with you to eradicate terrorist safe havens, to cut off their finances, and to discredit their depraved ideology,” he added.
On the issue of North Korea, President Trump stated that the world faces an enormous security threat from the North Korean regime, and urged all nations to “stand together and be accountable in implementing United Nations sanctions and resolutions in response to North Korea’s hostile and menacing actions.”
A free, independent, and democratic nation, he stressed, “in all cases, is the best vehicle for human happiness and success.”
Present also at the meeting were Foreign Ministers of the 8 African countries present; US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson; Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly; the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley; and other representatives of the US government.
On behalf of the African Presidents gathered, and on behalf of the African Union, President Alpha Conde thanked President Trump for the courtesy of the invitation to discuss issues bordering on the strengthening of US-Africa relations.
He noted that the 21st century will see Africa take its rightful place on the world stage, and will without doubt be a century in which Africans are going to are going to count for more and in a decisive way, because there is an ever-greater determination among Africa’s leaders and youth that the hour of renewal has arrived.