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More than 500 learners receive training in oil palm value chain



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More than 500 learners from the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET)’s Competency-Based Training (CBT) have received capacity building in the Oil Palm Value Chain.

The six-month training was run at five different agricultural training institutions throughout Ghana, focusing on specific training modules for occupations along the oil palm value chain.

The modules are Nursery Establishment, Land Preparation and Plantation Establishment, Farm Management, Harvesting and Agribusiness Management.

The 591 learners were awarded a certificate of completion at the graduation ceremony organised by Solidaridad West Africa in Bunso in the Eastern Region.

The project was in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH’s Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) Project, and the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies (UCAES).

The ATVET Programme is co-funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the German government.

Mr Detlev Axel Jahn, the Head of the Programme for Sustainable Economic Development, said the German Government remained committed to supporting the activities of the TVET sector in Ghana.

He said the sector was one of the surest ways to attain the financial and economic independence that the young people were striving for.

Mr Jahn urged all stakeholders in the TVET sector to continue to support the efforts of both the Ghanaian Government and its development partners to make TVET an attractive field for the youth.

“Providing demand-driven training to job-seeking youth, apprentices, workers, and others, builds a confident and job-ready workforce that makes them attractive to the industry, both as skilled employees and highly engaged entrepreneurs,” he added.

Mr Nicholas Issaka Gbana, Programme Manager, Solidaridad West Africa, said the programme was under the nationally accredited curriculum of the Commission for Technical and Vocational Education Training (CTVET).

He said in the first quarter of 2021, Solidaridad with its partner schools, UCAES in the Eastern region, Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture in the Ashanti region and Asuansi Technical Institute in the Central region, trained 506 learners in four out of six competencies of the oil palm curriculum.

Other partner schools are Father Dogli Memorial Technical and Vocational Institute in the Oti region and Kpando Technical Institute in the Volta region.

The Oil palm curriculum had Nursery Establishment, Land Preparation and Plantation Establishment, Harvesting, Agribusiness Management (Oil Palm)

He said based on that initial work, GIZ decided to provide an additional amount of  847,615 Euros to complete the training in the two outstanding competencies, that was Farm Management, and Processing and Quality Assurance.

Mr Gbana said for some of those learners that graduated in March 2021; and train an entirely new batch of learners in selected competencies.

He said the current graduation comprised 237 of the old batch of learners, who have completed all the six competences under the National Certificate 1 and 2.

He said 171 new batch of learners have completed the processing and agribusiness competencies, with 183 new batch of learners completing the farm management and agribusiness competencies.

“Present at today’s graduation ceremonies are the learners from UCAES and KITA,” he said.

He said the goal for the training was to support the learners to find work in the oil palm sector.

Mr Gbana said in March 2022, Solidaridad conducted a sample survey of the 506 learners that graduated last year, and they discovered that 36 per cent had found jobs in the oil palm sector as entrepreneurs or third-party employees, while 16 per cent had found jobs outside the oil palm sector.

He said they would continue to work with the schools and the Technical Examinations Unit of CTVET to conduct the external verification for this year’s training.

As part of the training, the learners underwent practical training sessions at selected agricultural enterprises, such as Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC), Volpalm and Volta Red, among others, through workplace experience learning.

WEL is an integral component of CBT training, aiming at equipping young people with practical skills and competences that are in-demand by the industry to facilitate their transition into employment.

Source: GNA

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AfCFTA records significant progress – Wamkele Mene 



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Wamkele Mene

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement has made significant progress in the last few years, thanks to the commitment of the continent’s heads of state, Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, has said.

Speaking at a meeting with media managers, Mr Mene said the Secretariat had been able to make significant progress in trade rules, especially the rules of origin, which are key to measuring the movement of goods across borders.

He said with over 5,000 different products being traded on the continent, it was always going to be difficult, adding that a fragmented regime was an affront to trade and investment.

“We have now been able to negotiate almost 90 per cent of the rules of origin. So, 5,000 products that we have in Africa we now have agreement close to 90 per cent. It is a remarkable achievement,” adding that every single item has to be negotiated.

“We’ve produced all the certified documents to trade with and it is now up to the member states to cooperate diligently with the process to make sure that trade is fully exploited,” the Secretary General noted.

However, he said negotiations are still ongoing on textiles, sugar and automobiles, adding that the textile sector, for instance, was very sensitive to most countries because of its nature of job creation and the capacity to absorb millions of people.  “So, most countries are apprehensive of the liberalization of textiles and so also is the auto sector. Some countries are advanced in the auto sector,” he said.

Mr Mene said the continent would start trading based on the rules of origin agreement, adding that all the documents needed to begin the trade are in place and those member countries needed to ensure that trade duly happened.

He said some countries including Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon and Mauritius have their customs systems in place, which could allow them to import, and export based on the agreed rules of origin.

Mr Mene said the governments needed to do much work on the customs infrastructure although all countries could not be ready at the same time.

Touching on the private sector, Mr Mene said it is the pillar of the implementation of the AfCFTA as about 60 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is derived from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that create the jobs.

He also said that the Secretariat and the African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank) had launched the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System – a cross-border, financial market infrastructure enabling payment transactions across Africa to boost intra-Africa trade and for financial inclusion among SMEs.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is to create a single market for goods and services, eased by the movement of persons to deepen the economic integration of the African continent.

Launched in August 2020, the trade pact, which is expected to connect about 1.3 billion people across 55 countries have seen 43 countries deposit their instruments for ratification to start trade.

It is also expected to move about 30 million people out of extreme poverty, boost Africa’s income by seven per cent to $450 billion by 2025, and add $76 billion to the income of the rest of the world.

Source: GNA

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Mahama calls for national economic dialogue over CCC+C downgrade



John Mahama

Former President John Mahama has called for a national dialogue to help salvage Ghana’s ailing economy.

Mr Mahama believes the national platform will bring together some of the country’s best brains together to find solutions to the economic challenges.

His comments are in relation to the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) recent downgrade of Ghana’s foreign and local credit ratings from B-B’ to CCC+C with a negative economic outlook.

S&P indicated the downgrade was due to intensifying financing and external pressures on the economy.

In a Facebook post, Mr Mahama said: “There appears to be no end to the problems with the Ghanaian economy, with the recent downgrade to CCC+/C junk status.”

To him, the Mid-Year budget review many thought will bring back investor confidence in the country’s economy did not.

The situation, he believes, is, therefore, a worrying situation and needs an immediate remedy.

Mr Mahama in 2021, while speaking at a lecture dubbed: ‘State of the Economy: the Score Card’, made a similar call.

During the event held at the Cedi Conference Centre of the University of Ghana in Accra, he called on the government to constitute a national forum on the economy to find lasting solutions to the country’s economic challenges.

He explained such consensus was demonstrated when his administration convened the Senchi Economic Forum, leading to the formulation of the Senchi Consensus.

Dr Gideon Boako, an aide to Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, however, shot down the calls, stating it will be a waste of time.

In his view, no effective policy decisions can be taken on such platforms, adding participants will only drag issues with no conclusion arrived at.

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We expect BoG to hike policy rate by further 1.5% – Standard Bank



Africa’s biggest bank, Standard Bank, expects the Bank of Ghana to increase its policy rate by between 1.0% and 1.5% percent.

This will push cost of borrowing further up.

In its latest report on Ghana dubbed ‘Africa Market Revealed’, it said the policy action by the Bank of Ghana is vital to help tame the falling value of the cedi, as well as slow down inflation.

“We expect the MPC [Monetary Policy Committee] to hike its key policy rate by a further 100-150 bps [basis points] in 2022. Inflationary pressures are accelerating; the MPC clearly stated its intention to tame that by its aggressive 450 bps hike of the policy rate, to 19.0%, between March and May [2022]”.

The cedi has come under severe pressure lately, with investors losing some value of their cedi-denominated assets. This has also escalated inflationary pressures.

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana increased the policy rate by 450 basis points in May 2022, a move that tame the depreciation of the local currency temporarily.

However, the challenge still persists, a reason many had questioned the decision by the MPC to keep the policy rate at 19% in July 2022.

Standard Bank said the lack of external funding may deplete the country’s foreign exchange reserves as well as the MPC’s ability to mitigate dollar/cedi volatility.

“The lack of external funding may deplete FX reserves as well as the MPC’s ability to mitigate US dollar/Ghana cedi volatility”.

It added that “inflationary pressures may become more entrenched, should the government fail to secure IMF funding, international oil prices remain elevated, and global risk appetite worsens further”.

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