Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority News
The e-Ananse project powered by West Blue Consulting has kicked off with the organization of a book reading event, at the cutting edge e-Ananse library facility in Accra which saw decent participation from the book-loving public. 
The event was characterized by a Ghanaian author, Bisi Agyapong narrating portions of her novel, Of Women and frogs in front of the audience in an intimate setting which was to exemplify traditional story telling methods.

Bisi Agyapong, the guest author at the event, described the initiative as opportune and entreated to take advantage of the facility she described as ideal for readers.
“The facility is cutting-edge and the location is ideal where all the hubs in Accra are situated.”
Sylvia Arthur, Project Consultant of the e-Ananse initiative expressing the passion of West Blue for the initiative, revealed that the e-Ananse libraries would not be confined to Accra alone but will soon be expanded across the country to revitalize the reading culture in an African way.
"The future of the library is that we definitely hope to expand not just in Accra but in all the other regions around Ghana as well to bring love of reading and storytelling to more children and more adults across the whole of the country. We really strive to preserve the Ghanaian story telling heritage,” she said. 
She said the book reading event would not be a one-day wonder, but aside that, many other engaging events would be organized several periods of every month and urged the Ghanaian youth to associate themselves strongly with such a laudable initiative that will go a long way to preserve the African heritage.
"I would like Ghanaians to remember our heritage as natural storytellers and to remember our love of books and reading because that's the way to go far and further in society,” Sylvia Arthur said. 
To become a member of an e-Ananse library, an adult would have to register with only 20 Ghana Cedis and 10 Ghana Cedis for children, and this covers the entire year.
A registered member of the e-Ananse gets access to all the books and state of art learning equipment in the library facility.

Stakeholders in the port and maritime industry have registered their displeasure towards some of the inefficiencies associated in the cumbersome clearance process at Ghana’s ports in a forum organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative in Accra.
An Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nkrumah-Ababio, lamenting revenue leakages created by diverted transit cargoes, stated that the tracking devices used on transit cargoes are prone to human manipulation accounting for the growing menace of cargo diversion.
“These electronic devices can be manipulated by men. Now there are modern technologies. Why do we continue to use the outdated ones?”
Garvin Amarvie, Corporate Monitoring Manager of the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority spelling out some bottlenecks stifling the efficient flow of activities at Ghana’s ports expressed discontentment towards the GRA on certain transitional measures carried out at the New MPS Terminal 3 which according to is depriving GPHA of what is due them.

“The system which has been in place is that boxes are moved from MPS to ICDs, only to sight a letter, which didn’t copy us, asking MPS that duties would have to be paid on all boxes before they leave MPS terminal 3,” he bemoaned.
The Corporate Monitoring Manager of GPHA, Garvin Amarvie suggested that government should be ably advised by technocrats on operational deficiencies in order to bring out policies that would promote efficiency.
“At times people in government are not advised properly. They do not get the right information they need to touch the sensitive areas which would enable them hover around a lot of things that would help them work well. We would crave their indulgence to interrogate the system well so they can come up with the best policies,” he urged.
Paul Nkrumah-Ababio, Assistant Commissioner added, “as public servants we always give advice. But it is up to government to take or not to take.” 
The Assistant Commissioner explained the rationale behind the new policy of duties on cargoes being required to be paid at the MPS Terminal 3 before they are transported to Inland Container Depots and asked that time is allowed to see effects of the policy before changing it.

“We have all admitted that sometimes movement of containers from one point to the other, some do get missing. Government’s intention is to make sure every good that gets out of the MPS terminal which is a secluded area, duties are paid at first hand, so even when goods are diverted, government doesn’t lose money,” he explained.
Some members of the freight forwarding fraternity who intervene on behalf of traders registered their displeasure towards government on some policies introduced describing them as burdensome on the trading public and called for more participation from the private trading sector during policy formulation.

“Here is the case you’re asking us to pay duties on the vehicles before they are taken to the Golden Jubilee for devanning. This will be hard for a regular car dealer, who clears his cars one after the other. The worse thing is, we are not communicated to before coming out with these directives,” one freight forwarder bemoaned.
According to the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, there is the need for a governance structure that has an agency that has an overarching responsibility to direct every agency in the clearance chain to work towards a certain target.
“The Commissioner touched on masterminding a regulatory framework where everybody knows where they belong. This has been our cry for some time now. We have called for it, there was a semblance of it. The energy to see that properly blossom got dissipated along the line,” Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah expressed.

He said until this is done, agencies in the port would continue to work in silos, and inefficiencies would forever characterize the clearance flow.  
Jacob-Amoako Mensah, Food and Drugs Authority, emphasized the need for all importers of consumables to be registered and be compliant with the FDA in order to not subject cargoes to detention, which hamper quick clearance.
“As one of the major stakeholders and advocates of the paperless port, we wouldn’t want to delay any trader unnecessarily. Our major challenge, however, is that the trading community do not know they need to register their products before they import them.
However, concerns were raised on the expensive fees and long period it takes to have goods registered.

Importers raised a problem that a fumigation levy is paid on cargoes brought into the country, which is supposed to cater for fumigation at the ports, but at the Terminal 3, fumigation is not done, yet the levy is still paid.
On the miscellaneous fee charged by Clearing agents, which are usually exorbitant fees charged for further facilitation rendered by agent, the GIFF president admitted that those fees are unwarranted.
“The Shippers Authority has a legislative instrument which enjoins the Shippers Authority to negotiate how much we charge the client. But the unfortunate bit of this is, since we have negotiated with Shippers Authority for approved fees, every fee beyond that is not warranted,” the GIFF president revealed.
Generally, the impression created at forum was that the port clearance system is cumbersome with so many inefficiencies hindering trade facilitation and the trader is the sufferer at the end. 

 The Ghana Integrity Initiative has held a multi stakeholder business integrity forum which sought to interrogate and assess procedures at Ghana’s port with the aim of promoting an effective and efficient business environment for the Ghanaian citizenry.

 The forum saw significant participation from important stakeholder groups, including the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, the freight-forwarding fraternity, shipping lines and state regulatory agencies in the port.

The Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Linda Ofori-Kwafo, said studies have indicated that, although much is being done in the area of reforms and interventions to transform the port industry, human centered factors are to blame for the gap in revenue mobilization and trade facilitation in the country. According to her, that this why the GII has created the platform for practical solutions to be arrived at by players in the port clearance chain to bring relief to the general public.

"Our clear focus is to highlight and find solutions to the challenges faced by importers in connection with the clearing of their goods at the port, especially in their dealings with the Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority,” she stated.
The Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah, in a speech read on his behalf by Bob Senyalah, an Assistant Commissioner said despite government’s intention to meet international trade facilitation agreements, by the introduction of reforms in the port industry, some prevalent issues that have hampered trade facilitation and revenue mobilization include, congestion in the port, negative attitude of officials at the port, and power struggle between state agencies operating at the port.
He admonished that the various legislative instruments around the port industry should be made clearer for all agencies to avoid conflicts in the execution of mandates.

He however said that the Customs division would continue to introduce interventions that would maximize trade facilitation in Ghana’s ports to bring ease to users of the port.

“The Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority takes this opportunity to assure the International Business Community and all trade practitioners that Customs with the support provided by government will always strive for continuous reforms aimed at promoting effectiveness and efficiency in the ports,” he assured.
Mary Adda, Programs Manager, of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, updating the audience and participants of the successes chalked by her outfit said, the GII will stay committed to bring transparency, accountability and efficiency within the both public and private sector space.
The Ghana Integrity Initiative is the local chapter of Transparency International, a non-governmental, non-profit civil organization focused on the fight against corruption.

  The Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana, John Pwamang has described the marine environment of Ghana as undesirable and called for Government to back the organization’s proposed policy to evolve the use of plastic products, because they are a major threat to marine life and public health.
 “We have a lot of pollution at the beaches very close to the harbor so we have to look for how government to advise on the plastic management policy that we have submitted. It doesn’t only deal with only plastic waste alone, but plastics in general.”

The Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Ghana who was speaking on Eye on Port interactive platform live on national television also revealed that a major problem that is making his outfit’s mandate to protect the country’s environment difficult is the importation of second hand products which mostly in essence, are waste imported into the country.
“The issue of second hand goods is a very thorny issue. Our law doesn’t prohibit the importation of second hand goods and equipment; it prohibits the importation of waste. But you would agree that some of the goods that come as second hands are not useable,” he said.

The EPA boss John Pwamang stressed that a rectification on what is classified as second hand products is made available by the country’s law as the existing legislation is not clear because according to him studies indicate that 15% of what is categorized as second hand goods are waste products imported into the country. 
“We have a broad law. We have to now come in with various regulations that would give effect to the various provisions of the law. Because the term second hand goods is too vague. We need to categorize second hand goods in what is useful for society and what isn’t,” the EPA boss added.

He also revealed that the 0.5% Free on Board to be charged on imports as eco levy to fund the provision of resources for the EPA is even inadequate to do all that his outfit is mandated to do to ensure total management of environmentally degradable substances in Ghana’s country space. Thus, the EPA is engaging the trade industry to revise the policy to make it more supporting of their mandate.
“We are still struggling with the traders as to the amount they should pay for the eco levy but we are still engaging them and we are hoping that by the last quarter of the year, we would be able to operationalize the policy,” he disclosed.

He appealed for collaboration from the trading public to identify with this laudable initiative to eradicate all forms of waste and hazardous products brought into the country by sacrificing to contribute to its funding and subscribe to the incoming policy that would charge 0.5% of the FOB on cargoes.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that his organization as a matter of seriousness is exerting pressure on beverage making companies to comply with the law that requires every beverage making company to provide a take back scheme for collection of public waste from their products.

“We have a provision that would enable us get the producers of beverages have an arrangement that requires them to take back all waste that come out of your operations.”
He said, although the EPA has been withdrawn from inspection activities in the port to facilitate trade and quick clearance of goods, the EPA still collaborates with state regulatory agencies like the Ghana Standard Authority to provide permits and control items that make it into the country.

He stated that penalties would be applied to all those who have resorted to bringing in old, hazardous products into the country to deter many more imports of the kind which include huge fines.
“We would impose penalties, and when people lose monies, they would not continue with the same act,” he expressed. 
John Pwamang also disclosed that the EPA is soon to roll out a state of the art recycling facility that would churn out public waste into useful products by environmentally wholesome methods which otherwise previously has been bedeviling the country.

 World class IT- service provider, West Blue Consulting, has embarked on the e-Ananse project that seeks to revitalize the reading culture in Ghana by providing the needed tools to the public to compete in the 21st century.
West Blue Consulting intends to give access to high quality, contemporary literature, state of the art computing facilities and world class literary events.


General Manager, Operations of West Blue, Kingsley Abeyei disclosed that this initiative is one that is dear to the founder of the company, Valentina Mintah whose vision has been to create an environment in which Ghanaians feel supported and inspired to become more literate individuals through the development of e-Ananse libraries throughout the country.

“It is an ongoing project with one here, in Osu and one at Legon but I’m sure with time you will see more of such things being rolled out throughout the country,” he disclosed. 
He also revealed that the name e-Ananse was chosen to convey the message of originality and belief in African literature, and the need to inculcate certain classic methods of storytelling back into the current generation.
According to Sylvia Arthur, the Project Consultant, E-Ananse libraries feature Afrocentric collection of contemporary and classic fiction and non-fiction by African writers, an e-Ananse technology hub equipped with state of the art internet enabled PCs, an Ananse Amphitheatre all managed by a highly professional staff.

“When you come into an e-Ananse library, you will know you entering a space in which African writers and writers of African descent. Their work is valued which is unlike many other libraries not just in Ghana but around the world as well,” she explained.
Currently, e-Ananse libraries are conveniently located in Osu and Legon so that people in Accra can get easy access to them.

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