EPA explores collaboration with two institutions in Finland

Accra, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is exploring collaboration with a top environmental institute and a university in Finland, expected to lead to research and capacity building exchange programmes between Ghana and Finland environmentalists.

The collaboration is also to ensure technology transfer, deepened training and knowledge sharing and policy discussions that would be boost the relations between Ghana and Finland.

It is expected to assist the EPA in transforming its Institute of Environmental Studies, located at Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region, to affiliate with the two institutions, and to get a national accreditation that would enable it to award diploma and degree certificates to its trainees.

The trainees include staff of the Agency and outsiders on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

A delegation made up of officials of the EPA and Aquaminerals West Africa Limited have, therefore, paid the first working visit to the Finland Environmental Institute and the University of Oulu, Finland, to interact with officials there and discover the opportunities that would accrued for both Ghanaian and Finnish nationals under the collaboration.

This is being led by Aquaminerals West Africa Limited, a joint-venture subsidiary of Finland that provides water treatment solutions in Ghana.

The Finland Environmental Institute is one of the main policy think-tanks on the environment in Europe while the University of Oulu is a leading research-oriented one.

Mr Samuel Owusu-Asare, the Chief Executive Officer of Aquaminerals, at a briefing with officials of the EPA, led by its Executive Director, Mr Peter Abum Sarkodie, said the two institutions abroad were enthusiastic about the agreement and looking forward to further engagements.

He said the University of Oulu, which he represents, was ready to share research findings with the EPA to boost its environmental protection agenda in the country.

EPA is well recognised as one of the formidable environmental institutions in Africa.

Mr Ransford Sekyi, the Acting Director at the Inter-Sectoral Network Division of EPA, who led the Agency’s team to visit Finland in July this year, said the collaboration was expected to be cemented further by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after officials were able to finalise the agreements.

We have to now find the modalities to cement this through either the Ministry of Environment or Foreign Affairs, he said, adding that the interactions would help both sides since Ghana also had some important things to share with Finland.

So it will be a win-win for both countries, he said.

Mr Sarkodie, on his part, expressed optimism about the collaboration and said it would enable the EPA to expand and further develop its Environmental Institute that currently award certificates to researchers and scientists who patronised the facility to learn about the environmental impact assessment among other things.

He said by the end of the first quarter of 2018, a team would go back to Finland to deepen and streamline the earlier discussions that would lead to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between EPA and the Finland Institutions.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Women are synonymous with development – President

Accra, Leaving women out of the national development agenda is a disservice to future generations, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

The empowerment of women, the President said, was the “surest way of rooting out poverty and guaranteeing the progress and prosperity of our continent and country.”

President Akufo-Addo said this at the launch of the HeForShe platform at the Independence Square in Accra.

The HeForShe is a solidarity campaign for the advancement of women initiated by UN Women.

The goal of the platform is to achieve equality by encouraging men and boys as agents of change and take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.

The President said he was proud that Ghana had joined several other countries to launch the HeforShe Platform in support of creating a better world “where we extend the blanket of protection to all women and to ensure that their rights become the bedrock for equality and social justice.”

“It is important we recognise that gender equality, and for that matter women’s equality with men, is a pre-requisite for development,” he said.

As the AU Gender Champion and Co-chair of UN SDGs advocates, President Akufo-Addo pledged to work with all actors to ensure that gender equality becomes a reality in Ghana and across the Continent.

“Today, I commit to giving full support to the three focus areas under the HeForShe Platform in Ghana.”

He called on all national players and decision-makers to support policies, which empower women and girls, adding; “I invite men and boys across all communities in our country to become agents of change and join this platform.”

“Inequality has an unbearable burden and cost on our economy, society and the development of our nation.

“Today, I join the millions of people around the world who stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality and say I am a HeForShe, the President declared.

Source: Ghana News Agency

PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO LAUNCHES AU ROADMAP ON HARNESSING DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND

ACCRA, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Monday launched the African Union (AU) Roadmap on Demographic Dividend and Strategic Roadmap for empowering the youth and tapping their expertise to develop Ghana’s economy.

On January 30, 2017 the continental programme, dubbed; ”Harness Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth” was unveiled as the theme for 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Akufo-Addo said the most effective way of ensuring prosperity in Ghana and on the African Continent was through value addition to the natural resources as well as transforming and diversifying the national economy.

The President was joined by Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, to unveil the plaque for the programme, which has the same theme: ”Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth”.

Demographic dividend describes a process of accelerated economic growth that begins with changes in the age structure of the population of a country as it moves from high to low birth rates.

Akufo-Addo said industrial development of the economy could be achieved through modernised agriculture and educated workforce.

”The countries that have done well, even without natural resources, are the countries that have invested in education and skills training.

”What the evidence from history and the experience of many countries have shown is that it is not natural resources that build nations.

”It is people who build nations. It is not gold, cocoa, diamonds, timber or oil that is going to build Ghana. If it was, it would have done so already. It is Ghanaians, especially the youth of today, who are going to build Ghana,” he said.

The President said government would reduce gender gaps in school enrolment and completion at secondary and tertiary levels to ensure all school-going-children attained a minimum of high school education through the Free Senior High School Policy, thereby deepening the Demographic dividend.

”Government will focus on production-oriented approach to education, knowledge and skill development, which will lead to economic development and improve the quality of science, mathematics, engineering and technology education at all levels as the foundation for growing the technological capacity and high-paying jobs,” he said.

Akufo-Addo said a healthy population was at the heart of the effort to transform the nation and would, therefore, ensure judicious utilisation of the nation’s natural resources to benefit all.

He said the current demographic transition in Ghana lent support to the clear onset of a demographic dividend that must be tapped.

He said over the past 50 years, the age structure of the country’s population had changed as a result of low births and deaths rates coupled with the decline in fertility rate.

Akufo-Addo said Ghana now had a broad-based population pyramid with the shrinking proportion of children.

He said the changes in the population dynamics had necessitated the need to implement certain key policies and programmes that would enable the country to reap the demographic dividend and ensure progress and prosperity.

For this reason, he said, the Government had developed strategic roadmap for harnessing the demographic dividend in Ghana, which would be performed within the context of four pillars, namely economy, education, health and governance.

He said over the last 11 months, the Government had worked to ensure the stability of the macro economy, without which private sector growth would be inhibited.

He said prudent economic management had resulted in the reduction of the inflationary rate and stabilised the local currency, as well as reducing the fiscal deficit through rationalisation of the public sector expenditure and increasing government revenue.

The President said government had also strengthened the private sector by shifting the focus of the Economic Policy from taxation to incentivising production.

He said the tax reforms were designed to make the country the investment destination of choice in Africa and mentioned the e-business registration, paperless ports clearance, digital addressing, mobile interoperability, and the national identification systems.

He said those programmes were designed to formalise the Ghanaian economy, reduce the cost of doing business and ensure financial inclusion.

Akufo-Addo said his government would pursue an employment-centred economic growth strategy that would ensure sustained employment creation, especially for the growing numbers of unemployed youth, and invest in quality, skill-specific human resource development in both secondary and tertiary institutions.

He said the Government would place entrepreneurship skills development at the centre of job creation through periodic skills audits to help orient educational investment for inclusive accelerated growth.

Government would direct growth strategies towards employment-intensive sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing to reflect existing rural-urban dichotomies in gainful employment generation.

It would also bridge the north-south divide in economic opportunities relative to the ”Planting for Food and Jobs,” ”One District, One Factory,” and ”One Village, One Dam” initiatives.

The President gave the assurance that the Government would uphold the principles of transparency, democracy, good governance, anti-corruption, the rule of law, equity and accessibility, human rights for all and a multi-sectoral approach to development.

Ghana’s fertility rate has declined from 6.4 per cent in the 1980s to 4.2 in 2014, with the population below 15 years reducing from 46.9 per cent in 1970 to 38.3 in 2010.

The economically active population (15-64 years) has grown from 49.6 per cent in 1970 to 57 in 2010.

The dependence ratio has also declined from 102 per cent to 76 per cent while the median age ratio has increased from 16.6 per cent to 20.7 per cent.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

African Americans Connect with Roots Through DNA

Impatient, Laquana Cooke checked her e-mails every day. She scanned her computer screen in hopes of finally seeing the results of her DNA test. She knew that her family comes from somewhere in Africa, but she wanted to know which country, which culture, which language.

I am a mother and I want to be able to tell my child where we come from, said Cooke, an English professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. You know who you are, but the test gives another dimension to your identity.

Six weeks after she sent saliva to a private company, she got her results.

I come mainly from Cameroon and Congo! she exclaimed while rereading the document. I met a Cameroonian at university, and I immediately thought of him, she recalled. I want to say ‘Hi, my brother, how are you!’

Laquana Cooke took the test as part of a project led by a professor at West Chester, Anita Foeman, founder of the school’s DNA Discussion Project.

For more than 11 years, Foeman, who is African-American, has been working with volunteers to test their DNA and analyze participants’ expectations and reactions when they learn the results.

Foeman remembers one case in particular. Kimberly, a 20-year-old woman, identified herself as Asian and Scandinavian before the DNA test. But the color of her skin and her hair led people to suspect she had African ancestry.

Are you asked if you are black? Foeman asked her. Kimberly replied, All the time, but I’m not!

The teacher asked her to receive the results in front of a camera. And indeed, she had 25 percent African DNA, Foeman recalled.

Kimberly started talking about it and crying, explaining that her features had always caused controversy in her life. Sometimes people did not want to be her friend because she was black, she said, or people did not want to go out with her, so she tried to ignore this part of her identity.

Power through knowledge

Pamela Hilliard Owens and Myesha Craddock are cousins. For years, they have been searching for their genealogy through documents. But the DNA test has opened a new door.

I found out that we were from the Horn of Africa, which is not common [among African-Americans], said Craddock, a lawyer in the Baltimore area. Now that she knows her origins, she would like to learn more about her ancestors.

The test has confirmed some things, and I would like to go there, meet the Africans, she said. I would like to know how Africans living in the Horn of Africa live, to know their culture.

With the answers come other questions, I would like to know how my ancestors came to America, the circumstances that made them slaves, she said.

For her cousin Pamela, a publisher in Detroit, knowledge offers power. These tests mean that our story did not begin with slavery, she said. Owens points out that African-Americans call Africa the motherland, because they are our brothers, our cousins … We are bound by history.

A growing trend

Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, says DNA testing is popular for a simple reason, Businesses are offering the African-American community to finally know their origins denied by society.

For the majority of this community, links to African culture and language were lost upon the arrival of their ancestors on American soil. Slaves were prohibited from maintaining their cultural and religious practices and forced to learn English.

During the Civil War, many archives that documented the arrival of slaves by boat were destroyed, making genealogical research more difficult.

Faced with this loss, DNA testing offers the possibility to rediscover some of what has been lost.

It’s a victory because you can feel deprived of this knowledge. But in this access to this knowledge, African-Americans face difficult truths like traces of sexual violence during slavery, Nelson said. Because most black Americans often are a percentage of European.

Once the results are known, African-Americans often try to connect with the African population living in their city, for example by going to a restaurant, to interact with them.

Alondra Nelson explains that she observed two types of reactions by African-Americans when results are posted online.

Either Africans say ‘Welcome home,’ or they begin to remember that to be part of this or that tribe, there are rites of passage, a language and a culture to know, she said.

The test also raises problems of historical interpretation. DNA testing often tells African-Americans they have roots in Cameroon, a country that did not exist during the slave trade. For Nelson, the real problem is the reduction of a culture and a nationality to genetic markers by private companies that collect data.

Despite the criticisms, some African-Americans embrace their newfound cultural roots, sometimes by being renamed or traveling to meet their brothers and sisters.

Ceremony of names

Bernice Bennett was excited when DNA companies told her she is 89 percent African. I jumped everywhere in my living room, she recalled.

On her screen, she discovered that she has 38 percent DNA from Cameroon and Congo, 28 percent from Ivory Coast and Ghana, nine percent from Senegal, and five percent from Benin and Togo.

Shortly thereafter, she contacted the Ivorian association La Main Tendue, which organizes nomination ceremonies, in order to give an African name to these new members of the community.

I am N’Gantcha, which means the twin, said Bernice, proudly showing the paper certificate she also received that day.

Growing up, she wondered where her ancestors came from before they were forcibly brought to the United States. When she received her results, she felt free to say I am African, and was even able to pinpoint exactly which region.

Bernice went to Africa for the first time in 1994, visiting the South African city of Cape Town. She remembers how she felt when she arrived on the continent.

Just touching the continent, I felt so proud to be among Africans, she recalls. Someone even told me ‘welcome home my sister,’ you can not imagine what I felt at that time … I was at home!

Source: Voice of America

Six-year old girl appeals for financial assistance to undergo treatment

Accra, A six-year old girl by name, Joy, diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, is appealing to well-meaning Ghanaians and philanthropists to help her raise 50,000 dollars for her treatment in South Africa within the shortest possible time.

Her recovery looked bleak unless we are able to raise 50,000 dollars for her treatment as soon as possible, a statement issued by her mother, Ms Anna Koranteng, and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Tuesday, said.

The thought of losing my Joy is an unbearable one, but that is what I face now unless I am able to raise this amount immediately.

And so I make this humble appeal to you for financial assistance in order to give my brilliant girl the chance to live and become the doctor that she wants to become in future.

Without your kind donation, and that of those who you can also reach out to on our behalf, Joy may not make it. Please lend a hand to save my baby’s life, the statement said.

Donations could be sent through MTN mobile money number: 0245958002 and to Barclays Bank, Cape Coast Branch, Account Number; 0371007695, with the Account Name: Anna Aboagyewa Koranteng.

Source: Ghana News Agency