How To Feed Ghana and Africa – the Justice Baidoo Way – AfricanPod Ep 5

On the AfricanPod today, a young man from Africa decides to stop talking and rather act and show how and why it is possible to feed Ghana and Africa with simple modern methods of Farming. 

My name is Phillip Nyakpo, and AfricanPod is about the good news and the bad news about Africa.

One of the enduring images of Africa around the world are those of malnourished, hungry and helpless children. Those images evoke a lot of passionate discussion, but not a lot of action

Of course, the images of hungry children from Africa do not exactly represent the overwhelming majority of children in Africa – but Africa does have a challenge in feeding itself.

So having heard all the endless talk about what needs to be done, Justice Baidoo, from Ghana decided to take action and set an example.

He built an artefact.

Justice Baidoo’s artefact is a multipurpose Farm in Ghana’s Western Region, and he calls it Bluefields Farms.

Before building Bluefields Farms, Justice spent some years in Journalism and later travelled to the United Kingdom to study advanced Journalism. He returned with a passion to use modern farming as a tool to uplift his community.

Justice Baidoo is the guest on this episode of AfricanPod, and he describes his mission to teach by example that it is possible for Ghanaians and Africans to feed themselves.

For more on the good news and bad news about Africa, subscribe to the AfricanPod on iTunes Podcast, on Youtube, search for AfricanPod, and also on our website, AfricanPod.com.

Posted in Africa

Africa and Australia – the Collaboration of two Continents – AfricanPod Ep 4

In this episode of AfricanPod, we take a look at Africa and Australia – the collaboration of two continents.


These two continents that are so far apart, and challenges in collaboration is a significant issue.These include a range of cultural, political and social gaps that needs bridging.

The challenges remain, but progress has also been made by many individuals and organizations. One individual that has made a difference is Camilla Coffey.

Camilla is associated with the New South Wales chapter of the Australia Africa Business Council, and has considerable experience in bringing African and Australian businesses together.  She has also travelled around Africa over the last decade.

Among other talents, Camilla Coffey specialises in connecting people and promoting ethical business development in Africa.

I spoke to Camilla on the phone to Sydney, where she shares her experience.

Here are some quotes from the interview:

“It is not all war, and famine and disease…”

“Africans want to thrive, and want to do well, and do well with so little”

“You can pass through a township (in Africa) and see someone’s washing on the line and their white will be the whitest white you’ve ever seen…   the most beautifully clean clothing – and you think how has he done it? I can’t get my clothing that good.”

“I get a buzz out of seeing people making shoes out of disused tyres”

“You must see an African sunset”

“There is an image problem for Australians when they think about Africa”

“There is a lot of competition for Africa against Asia and Latin America”

“There is a challenge for African businesses to grow large enough to get onto a Stock Market before they can get foreign funding and interest from Australians”

Posted in Africa, Australasia

Nigeria Slaps MTN with 5 Billion Dollar Fine – AfricanPod Episode 3

In this episode of AfricanPod, Muhammadu Buhari’s government in Nigeria has a strong message for multinational companies, and it is this: a government’s regulatory power can always be exercised to ensure multinational companies remain at par with the law, and not above it.  

A multi-national Telecommunications giant in Nigeria MTN, has been slapped with a fine of more than five billion dollars by the Nigerian government. Yes, that is billion with a “B.”

“B,” as in “bravo.

Posted in Africa

World Bank and IMF are “Blood-sucking Institutions,” says Rogue Ambassador


“What is the real benefit of having to choose between two rotten apples?” That’s one of the thought-provoking questions in the latest episode of the AfricanPod, available on iTunes PodcastYoutube (search for AfricanPod), and coming soon to Android and Google Podcast Platform.

Let me introduce the Rogue Ambassador who is speaking for Ghana and calling the World Bank and IMF “Blooodsuckers!”2

The gentleman is British, with a long diplomatic career, having joined the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the early 1980s as a member of the Diplomatic Service.

Through all his years in the service, Craig Murray refused to be a regular diplomat, and it would take two decades before he was pushed aside as an ambassador gone rogue.

I met Craig Murray many times in Ghana as a Journalist during the relatively earlier days of Ghana’s continuing experiment with democracy. I interviewed him in live studio sessions extensively, and Craig is nothing but a “rogue,” that is, he is unpredictable but also likable with undeniable intellectual attractiveness.

He is deeply interested in shining light on matters political, wherever he smells chaos, corruption, incompetence and human rights abuses.

In his position as Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana during the crucial 2000 general elections, Craig Murray was a lone diplomat from the international community campaigning, yes, campaigning vigorously to ensure a free and fair election.

He freely named and shamed politicians whom he believed were bent on rigging the election.

In the normal course of events, such public advocacy on the part of a diplomat in a foreign country was wholly unconventional – but the unconventional arena is where Craig Murray found his calling.

One and a half decades on, Murray, now an ex-diplomat speaks for Ghana and Africa.

Prior to his dismissal as ambassador, Craig Murray served in Uzbekistan in 2002 where he publicly declared that “Uzbekistan is not a functioning democracy,” pointing to numerous reports of torture and abuse of power.

After his dismissal, he told the Guardian newspaper that (quote) “you don’t have to be a pompous old fart to be an ambassador”

Writing in the Guardian some years ago, Nick Paton Walsh said Craig Murray’s “…distinctly undiplomatic assessment of Uzbekistan’s human rights record propelled him into a lengthy battle with the (UK) Foreign Office. He was subjected to a humiliating disciplinary investigation, had his personal life publicly shredded and suffered a string of health problems. He became the rogue ambassador.”

So Craig Murray knows the cost that can come with being outspoken against governments and powerful institutions – and yet he continues to lock horns with powerful institutions on behalf of Africa.

These days, the former ambassador is settled into a private role as a more fearsome and outspoken human rights activist, along with commenting on issues on politics, economics, finance and international relations.

In that self-appointed role, the rogue ambassador has come out to speak for Ghana, warning the country to stay away from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Referring to IMF and the World Bank as, – quote – “bloodsucking institutions,” Mr Murray says he prays that one day Ghana will escape the grip of the “blood-suckers.”

The rogue ambassador’s concern is pivoted on the poor power supply across Ghana at the moment – a phenomenon called “Dumsor.”

At the height of Dumsor, most of the country will have power for no more than 12 hours, and then darkness for 24 hours.

Craig Murray is angry because as he says, just ten years ago, Ghana had the most reliable electricity supply in all of Africa and the highest percentage of households connected to the grid, ahead of every other nation on the continent.

The Volta River Authority, a power generation organisation which delivered power was set up in 1961 under the auspices of Ghana’s first President and Pan-African giant, Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The VRA, just one of the few enormous undertakings of Dr Nkrumah proved to be world class and enduring – and extremely beneficial for the West African nation.

But that, according to Craig Murray, was only until what he called the neo-liberal ideologues of the IMF and World Bank couldn’t stand to see the successful public owned and run enterprise – because they considered it a threat to their own decades-long narrative that such enterprises always fail.

Somehow, IMF and the World Bank misled Ghana to break it all up into different pieces: production was separated from distribution and then private sector Independent Power Producers were hurriedly introduced.

The result?

There are more power cuts now than the country has ever experienced in its entire history as an independent nation.

To be fair, the story is likely more complex and complicated than that.

Craig Murray however keeps the focus on the problem as he sees it, speaking for Ghana and Africa, and contending that the IMF and the World Bank, propelled by the United States are on a dangerous course to ruin Ghana.

If the rogue Ambassador is right, then the question is what are Ghanaians themselves and their leaders doing about it?

Do Ghanaians and their leaders really know what the IMF and the World Bank really is?

Do they think the IMF and the World Bank exists to enrich their lives?

Someday soon, someone needs to explain the true interests of the World Bank and the IMF. Because here is the thing: no self-respecting nation goes begging the IMF and the World bank for loans.

Every self-respecting nations knows how to put its own house in order, takes care of its own affairs, and without words tells IMF and the World Bank to get lost.

It appears Ghana – and much of Africa – is simply too impotent and too poor to find the right words for IMF and the World Bank.

In the meantime, another general election is planned for next year – and the usual noise about who can do the job best is getting louder.

But the political discourse in Ghana leading up to the election seems to have already reached a conclusion: and that is, the whole exercise is going to be a poor choice between “chaos and incompetence.”

Some say between chaos and incompetence, one would be better than the other – but then what is the real benefit of having to choose between two rotten apples?

The Rogue Ambassador may continue speaking for Ghana and Africa, but countries in Africa – and Africa itself – must learn to get smart and find its own strong voice to keep the World Bank and IMF at bay.

Here at AfricanPod, we think it is only then can it stop giving its people the false choice between chaos and incompetence.

Posted in Uncategorized

AfricanPod Episode 1 – A Fresh Podcast for Africa


Thank you for listening to this first episode of AfricanPod, and I am recording this on a beautiful day in Spring, and in a beautiful city called Perth in Western Australia.

Against the background that we live in  a world thoroughly saturated by useless information, much of what you can expect on this podcast will be different. And this AfricanPod is for Africa and the World.

So what is the AfricanPod?Logo.cdr 2

It is a refined, relaxing, informative but also reasonably critical commentary on our world – the highs and lows, the hopes, dreams and some disappointments.

In Spite of all the terror, misinformation and depressing news, this is still the most exciting time to be alive in all human history.

So, who am I?

It is a good idea to introduce myself to you because when I watch TV and listen to Radio and see all these strange people telling me something, I tend to ask – “who are you? and why are you telling me this?”

So here I am:

My name is Phillip Nyakpo, born in the West African country of Ghana and now live mostly in Australia where I hop and skip with Kangaroos.

I have an extraordinarily beautiful wife – and needless to say, our two children, a boy and a girl choose to look like their mother and inherited a large measure of my own mischief.

I spent about a decade in Journalism as a Reporter, News Editor and  Talk show host. I practiced Journalism at a high level long before the days of Facebook and Whatsapp and Twitter.

I had a stint with the BBC World Service for Africa between 2004 and 2005. The first time my voice went global was sometime in 1998 when I reported for the BBC’s Network Africa – Ben Dotsei Malor, now at the United Nations was still hosting the popular BBC program.

The subject was the historic Congress of Ghana’s New Patriotic Party which elected John Kufour as leader, and Kufour went on to win two successive general elections and served as Ghana’s president for eight years.

The context of that reportage was illuminating it was back-grounded in the larger-than life character known as Jerry John Rawlings. Rawling’s almost two decades as Ghana’s Head of State was coming to and end, and the constitution barred him from standing again as President. The over-ridding question then was “will he hand over or not – and if did, to whom will he hand over?”

It is all history now, as Rawlings peacefully handed over power – a rather rare occurrence in African politics even today.

When I practiced Journalism at the level, what we know today as the Internet was not exactly in its infancy, but it was crude. We mostly relied on the painfully slow dial-up connection, and even then it cost a fortune. Keep in mind, this was before Google and Facebook, the two leviathans of today’s Internet.

So that is to say we had Internet only in theory – and journalism was different in terms of speed, access and reach.

I have fond memories of those days of encounter. I hope that I won’t fit the description of a Dinasour, and whereas I was fairly quick in taking up technology in the context of Journalist, the speed of change slowly exceed my ability to learn and adapt.

So after many years, I am now catching up with Podcasting on the AfricaPod – a totally new platform for bringing sanity into everything that is news, current affairs and analysis for the discerning mind. There will be contributions by others who will shed light on world affairs, often from an African perspective, and quality information will include politics, economics, Finance, Health and Environment – and yes, Sports.

To paraphrase George Martin in A Dance with Dragons, “anyone who listens to the AfricanPod  will live a thousand lives before he dies, the man who never listens lives only one. 

So come along and enjoy the journey. Subscribe to the AfricanPod – and one sure thing is promised: you won’t live just one boring life by yourself.

On the next AfricanPod, you will hear about a Rogue Ambassador who speaks for Ghana and Africa – imagine that!

Posted in Uncategorized

Addressing Ghana’s Energy Shortfall: Solar vrs Nuclear

Nuclear-Solar

Which way – Nuclear or Solar?

In early 2013, Ghana and Russia signed a low-keyed agreement to address the nation’s serious energy shortfall through nuclear power generation.

But a Ghanaian Engineer based in Melbourne, Australia is putting out a strong argument that nuclear power for the developing nation is unsafe and too risky.

Instead, Mr Julius Badu recommends an aggressive programme for solar power generation. According to him, any move towards nuclear power development should be “the very last option,” while every effort is made to take advantage of the generous availability of sunshine.

The 18-page paper released by Julius Badu also advocates that in the event that the government of Ghana makes an irrevocable decision to go ahead with building a nuclear plant with Russian help, the Ghanaian populace should be given the opportunity to vote on the issue in a special referendum. [Click here to read the paper]

Posted in Uncategorized

Egypt: another mess in the land of Pyramids

morsi

Embattled President Morsi

By Phillip Nyakpo –
In his first term as President, Barack Obama ordered a four star General to the Oval Office and fired him. [Click here to listen] The diplomatic language used was that General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of US forces in Afghanistan had been relieved of his duty, after he reportedly made disrespectful remarks about Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials.

In characteristically eloquent words, Obama said “the conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.”

That phrase, “civilian control of the military,” must be a very strange and foreign concept in Egypt, as shown by events in the last few days.

Instead of “civilian control of the military,” the military in Egypt wields absolute power, to the extent that it is able to give an ultimatum to elected officials to resign or be forced out.

The effrontery it takes for the military to make the call is incomprehensible to most democratic nations. It is a direct contrast to the centuries old American system of government.

But there are unique and historic reasons for the anomaly: Egypt has been without a democracy for generations. The former President, Hosni Mubarak alone was in power for more than 30 years, being propped up by the military. The military by design controlled way more than just guns and tanks.

For all that and more, the Egyptian military commands a certain influence that is totally alien to most democratic nations, and most Egyptians are conditioned to accept the military as an institution that can directly come to the aid of the population against elected officials.

Right or wrong, some Egyptians found it necessary to hit the streets and call for the resignation of President Morsi and his government.

The country’s currency has lost more than 30 percent of its value since Morsi came into power. Unemployment is rising with no convincing solutions being offered. The resulting deep and sharp division has brought millions onto the street in a show of anger reminiscent of the last days of Hosni Mubarak.

Also on the streets of course are supporters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the President Morsi, making the case that an elected president must not be forced out of office.

At least sixteen people have died in the protests so far, but their death is not even making the headlines, and President Morsi has vowed to stay, clinging to his legitimacy as elected President.

“The price of preserving legitimacy is my life,” Morsi said in an impassioned 45-minute address. On the other hand, the Army has pledged to remove Morsi, and thinks it has it all worked out when it takes over: a new presidential election, suspension of the relatively new constitution and the dissolution of parliament.

It is just another mess in the land of the Pyramids.

If the current political temperature is anything to go by, then there is only one sure thing: any change won’t come easy, and it won’t be long before there is another round of calls for another change.

Very uncertain also is the greater price to be paid for all these. The price, sadly could include the price of precious lives and instability, as is already the case.

Posted in Africa, Egypt, North Africa

Snowden abandoned in the Terminal?

By Phillip Nyakpo –
More than a week has passed, and Edward Snowden is still still stuck in a Russian airport terminal. what-do-you-think-of-national-security-leaker-edward-snowden-pollUnited States is concerned that the Russians are milking the 30 year old former CIA employee turned whistleblower who has some seriously classified information. [Click here to listen to this article in audio]

Putin denies, and says the Kremlin wants to see him exit his country, “the sooner the better.”

But that’s where it all gets messy, because being stuck at the Sheremetyevo International Airport means Snowden is technically not in Russia, and Russian officials have said seven million times that he has no visa to clear immigration.

Snowden’s precious US passport was red-flagged and promptly cancelled as the US took baby-steps to have Hong Kong and China extradite him. But then a set of complex circumstances meant Snowden was able to leave Hong Kong with some legal papers issued by Ecuadoran officials.

It was boldly announced then that Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks was instrumental in getting Snowden further away from the world’s lone superpower. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks itself currently has a lot of sympathy from the government of Ecuador. Here again, it gets complicated, because the President of Ecuador has all but disowned Snowden. He admitted that Ecuador helped Snowden with a temporary travel pass to depart Hong Kong, but that “it was a mistake.”

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, President Correa said his government will not give Snowden an authorised travel document to extract him from Moscow airport, insisting Snowden is now Russia’s responsibility.

Prior to making this public statement, President Correa had spoken to US Vice President Joe Biden. Obama instructed Biden to put pressure on world leaders to give up Snowden, and Biden seems to be making quite an impression on the Ecuadorian President for now.

Even Russian President Vladimir Putin now says it is in Russia’s interest that Snowden stops leaking US secrets, and at the same time expressed doubts that he will stop leaking.

It is not clear where all this is going for Snowden, even as he continues life in limbo – in a Russian airport Terminal.

If Hollywood contemplates a movie on Snowden, it could it could be called Terminal 2013 – and it could be more tantalising than the original movie THE TERMINAL. The THE TERMINAL 2013 will be based on a real life spy considered both as a villain and a hero who gets a dozen world leaders talking about him.

Posted in International Relations

Datsun parades a new design

datsun
datsun

A sketch of the first new Datsun

Datsun has revealed sketches giving a preview of the first new-generation Datsun car, which will be unveiled at a world premiere event in New Delhi, India on 15 July 2013.

The car will be the first product aimed at the Indian market — and the first of the future Datsun model line-up to be launched from 2014. The premiere event will not only unveil the new model, but also introduce the Datsun brand whose return to the market was announced in March 2012.

It marks a significant milestone and a new chapter in the history of the brand aimed at high-growth markets such as India, Indonesia and Russia in 2014, to be followed by South Africa later in the year.

Although Datsun models will be individually developed for different markets, the concept will follow a common inspiration.

“Datsun will bring competitive products and services, modern and aspirational, while at the same time reassuring, providing superior value and specifically developed for the emerging and ambitious new middle-class in high-growth markets. The Datsun cars will be locally developed with the support of Nissan Motor Company engineers and stylists and will be locally produced,” said Vincent Cobee, Head of Datsun.

Posted in Technology

Egyptian leader rejects soldiers’ ultimatum

pyramids

Egypt, and its everlasting pyramids have seen many upheavals

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has rejected the army’s 48-hour ultimatum to resolve the country’s deadly crisis, saying it will only sow confusion.

President Morsi insists he will continue with his own plans for national reconciliation, a presidential statement said early on Tuesday.

The army has warned it will intervene if the government and its opponents fail to heed “the will of the people”.

However, it denies that the ultimatum amounts to a coup.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s state news agency Mena reported early on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr had submitted his resignation.

If accepted, he would join at least five other ministers who have already reportedly resigned over the political crisis.

On Sunday, millions rallied nationwide, urging the president to step down.

Large protests continued on Monday, and eight people died as activists stormed and ransacked Cairo’s Muslim Brotherhood headquarters, to which the president belongs.

President Morsi’s opponents accuse him of putting the Brotherhood’s interests ahead of the country’s as a whole.

He became Egypt’s first Islamist president on 30 June 2012, after winning an election considered free and fair following the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

In an announcement read out on Egyptian TV, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, defence minister and head of the armed forces, described the protests as an “unprecedented” expression of the popular will.

If the people’s demands were not met, he said, the military would have to take responsibility for a plan for the future.

But while he said the army would not get involved in politics or government, his words were seen by many as a coup in the making.

Noisy celebrations erupted in Cairo as protesters interpreted the army’s ultimatum as spelling the end of Mr Morsi’s rule.

Tens of thousands of flag-waving supporters of Tamarod (Rebel) – the opposition movement behind the protests – partied in Cairo’s Tahrir Square late into the night.

Meanwhile senior Brotherhood figure Muhammad al-Biltaji urged pro-Morsi supporters to “call their families in all Egyptian governorates and villages to be prepared to take to the streets and fill squares” to support their president.

“Any coup of any sort will only pass over our dead bodies,” he said to a roar from thousands gathered outside the Rab’ah al-Adawiyah mosque in Cairo’s Nasr district.

There were reports of gun clashes between rival factions in the city of Suez, east of the capital, on Monday night.

The army later issued a second statement on its Facebook page emphasising that it “does not aspire to rule and will not overstep its prescribed role”.

According to Tuesday’s presidential statement, President Morsi was not consulted ahead of the ultimatum announcement. It said that such action would “cause confusion in the complex national environment”.

Given the inability of politicians from all sides to agree until now, the 48-hour ultimatum makes it unlikely Mr Morsi can survive in power, says the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Cairo.

Credit BBC

Posted in North Africa