For three years the banking sector withstood economic challenges, but now the sector appears to have caught an economic cold. The sector is showing signs of economic stress with key performance matrix decelerating for 2015 in sharp contrast to last the three years of buoyant earnings and profitability.
Profit growth has sagged while cost of operation has risen and non-performing loans have reached new heights. For the past three years, economic growth in terms of GDP has spluttered, falling from a record high of 14 percent in 2011 to about 4.1 percent in 2015.
But after a protracted economic malaise in which the banking sector rode the storm, key indicators of banks’ profitability, as published by the Bank of Ghana’s Financial Stability report, have showed some deterioration for the period ended September 2015.
The report showed that growth in the sector’s income before tax declined sharply from 54.4 percent in September 2014 to 5.9 percent in September last year. The drastic decline in the banks’ fortunes, according to the central bank, reflects challenges the economy has been facing; with the protracted energy crisis leading the onslaught.
The central bank stated that key matrix which measured the efficiency of the sector’s efficiency, cost to income ratio, showed some deterioration in efficiency. Cost to income ratio in the period ending September 2015 was 80.8 percent as compared to 75.4 percent in September 2014.
The increase in the cost to income ratio came as a little surprise, especially at a time when the power crisis was in full force and banks had to spend fortunes to fuel power plants to ensure banking operations flowed seamlessly.
Within the period in review, total assets of the banking sector grew by19.7 percent to GH¢57.23 billion as at end September 2015, compared with a much improved performance of 41 percent recorded in 2014.
Credit to the private sector also grew by 3.6 percent at end of September 2015compared with the 26.6 percent growth at the end of September 2014. Credit to the households also grew — by 4 percent in September 2015 compared with 19.8 percent growth recorded in the same period for 2014.
The energy crisis and tightening of monetary policy by the central bank took a toll on creditors, mainly businesses — forcing them to default in their payments to the banks. In 2014 non-performing loans (NPLs) were 12.1 percent, but this increased to 13.5 percent last year.
Of the total non-performing loans, credit to the private sector contributed 97.4 percent while the rest was borne by the public sector.
But the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concern about the growing incidence of NPLs in the sector; saying that the increase in non-performing loans indicates the importance of adequate provisioning practices and the need to hold sufficient capital buffers to absorb further increases in NPLs.
The Fund in its January report on the country advised the BoG to immediately increase provision levels and address the weaknesses in asset classification that were uncovered in the recent audits.
“The authorities should also insist on Parliament urgently adopting the banking laws (in any case no later than June 2016). These bills are essential to ensure that the authorities have adequate bank resolution and crisis management powers,” the Fund said.
But the Bank of Ghana is confident the power barges coming on-stream will help the banks recover from the energy challenges and improve on their profitability position.
“Again, the diagnostic study initiated by the Bank of Ghana on banks’ loan books and operations is expected to moderate non-performing loans in the sector,” the central bank assured in its report on the financial services sector’s stability.
Source: B&FT Online
A YouTube clip showing controversial Nigerian Pastor T.B. Joshua’s dramatic encounter with ‘Lucifer’ has gone viral, amassing over 500,000 views in just one month since its release online.
The video titled ‘Face To Face With Lucifer’ shows a peculiar scenario that unfolded in Joshua’s church when a self-professed ‘occult wizard’ came to seek prayers at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, Nigeria.
In the clip, an eerily looking man with a menacing black beard introduces himself as Professor Chukwudi Okakpu, an alleged ‘Grand Llama of Science Beyond Material’. Amidst his extraordinary claims, the Satanist professed to have had face to face encounters with ‘Lucifer’ and to have endorsed ‘anti-Christs’ globally. “I can stay here and appear in any part of Europe,” Okakpu, dressed in a flowing white suit, calmly stated, adding that he ‘operates like a spirit’. “If you are such a person that patronises shrines or herbalists, I am the ultimate,” he sensationally claimed.
The video shows Joshua praying for Okakpu who sways uneasily several times before eventually falling to the floor. Several of his ‘followers’ proceed to come out from the crowd and are also prayed for, after which the ‘professor’ renounces his devilish past. Okakpu proceeds to return the following week with some of his ‘occultic’ garments to testify to the changes in his life after ‘accepting Jesus Christ’.
“This is a video satan does not want you to watch,” Emmanuel TV states in its introduction of the clip on YouTube. “A satanic ‘general’ renounces his covenants with devilry and witchcraft in a church service that made hell and its minions quiver!” As with most of Joshua’s videos, the contents have elicited controversy with opposing views as to its authenticity.
Several online commentators insisted Joshua’s deliverance services are nothing more than a scam involving arranged actors while others argue they are genuine and godly. Joshua’s YouTube channel Emmanuel TV, where the clip was uploaded, is the third most subscribed channel in Nigeria with nearly 300,000 subscribers and 110,000,000 views.
Written by freelance journalist, Ihechukwu Njoku
If you live in Liberia, arranging to see a doctor might unfortunately not be as simple as booking an appointment.
Seven out of 10 people in the country say they have had to pay bribes to access basic services like healthcare and schooling, according to Transparency International, a global watchdog.
This number is the highest in Africa, but in the latest poll — which the NGO conducted with Afrobarometer, an organization which publishes surveys on African governance — 58% of people said they thought bribery was increasing.
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What do Africans worry about the most?
According to the latest report by Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan research network that publishes surveys on governance on the continent, the answer is overwhelmingly unemployment.
The data comes from over 47,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in 32 African countries about the biggest concerns and priorities, and job security was mentioned in 37% of them.
Researchers also noticed that the better off people were, the more they considered joblessness a pressing national issue.
“Wealthy people are much more likely than poor people to see unemployment as their country’s number one problem — about twice as likely as the very poorest,” says Brian Howard, Afrobarometer’s publications’ manager.
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There’s a reason Uganda is known as the Pearl of Africa. It’s been a top tourist destination for a few years now, due to its stunning scenery and wildlife.
One of its best treasures, however, remains hidden.
Off the beaten track, Kidepo National Park is nestled among the rugged hills and valleys of Northern Uganda. It’s a place so hidden away it’s beauty has mostly gone unnoticed until now.
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There have been small renovations. The walls have been painted with new colors. The dormitory where the attackers went room to room killing students has since been renamed.
A police station has been set up at the school and security presence has upped from four officers to 30.
Classes resume Monday at Garissa University College, nine months after the school experienced one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks Kenyan soil.
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North Korea announced Wednesday that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
If true, it now possesses something much more powerful than the weapons it has tested in the past.
The nuclear age is has entered its eighth decade, and while relatively few nations possess the power, the potential consequences of North Korea upping its nuclear game from a basic atomic bomb to a hydrogen bomb has caught the world’s attention.
A quick lesson in fission versus fusion
If Pyongyang has mastered the technology, it has made a major step forward in its nuclear capabilities.
The plutonium-based atomic weapons it tested up until this point were powerful enough — the United States dropped such weapons on Japan to end World War II — but a hydrogen bomb ups the ante many times over.
Atomic bombs use a process called fission. They split plutonium and/or uranium into smaller atoms in a chain reaction that releases massive amounts of energy.
The A-bombs dropped by American forces on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 killed more than 200,000 people.
NASHUA, New Hampshire – Alex Mendola, a 19-year-old from Amherst, New Hampshire who will be casting his first ballot in next month’s presidential primary, is exactly the type of young voter who has helped fuel Sen. Bernie Sanders’ improbable lead over Hillary Clinton in the first-in-the-nation primary state.
And Mendola was a firm Sanders supporter – that is until Monday, when he walked into Nashua Community College Monday morning to hear Bill Clinton pitch voters on his wife.
“I was a solid Bernie voter, but now I’m not so sure,” Mendola said after listening to the former president’s remarks, which focused on the stakes of the election and Hillary Clinton’s experience. “If Bernie won the primary and lost the general election, I think that would be disaster. So even if don’t like Hillary as much as Bernie, I feel more confident that she would win the general election. And I think that’s what’s going to persuade me to vote for Hillary if I do.”
He was not the only one to express that view here, and the Clinton campaign is hoping many more voters will follow.
As the calendar turned to the new year, Clinton seemed to zero in on one message: The stakes of this year’s presidential election. And her opening argument of 2016 is also her closing argument of the Democratic presidential primary. By reminding Democrats of the stakes, she invites voters to question whether they’re wiling to risk so much in an untested candidate like Sanders.
With the accomplishments of the Obama presidency and the Supreme Court on the line, now is no time to gamble, the subtext suggests. Even if voters might not be in love with Clinton, the suggestion is that their choice is either Clinton or a Republican.
“We’ve made a lot of progress under President Obama on the environment, saving the auto industry, advances for LGBT rights, trying to work out the extreme difficulties involved in supporting immigration,” Bill Clinton said during his first solo campaign stop for his wife of the 2016 campaign. All that “will be reversed if you get a Republican Congress and a Republican President.”
Hillary Clinton made a similar point in her first speech of the year Sunday. “We’re gonna have a great debate in the general election. I can’t wait. You know I really can’t wait,” she said in New Hampshire.
And she continued to hammer it on Monday as she campaigned across Iowa. “So when I think about what’s at stake in this election, I don’t think the stakes could be higher,” she said in Davenport. “The stakes are so high for Iowa and America,” she said in Des Moines.
The message taps into a deep vein among Democratic voters, including some Sanders supporters, who view Clinton as the stronger general election candidate.
That’s evident even in New Hampshire, Sanders’ strongest and most important state. The same December CNN poll that found Sanders leading Clinton by 10 percentage points overall also showed that 70% of Democratic primary voters think Clinton had the best chance of winning in the general election, compared to just 17% who picked Sanders.
A separate CNN poll found 59% of Democrats nationally said Clinton has the best chance to win the presidency, compared to 38% who opted for “someone else.”
Now Clinton’s campaign has to convince voters that they should make their decision in the primary on who is best capable of winning the general.
Her campaign has been highlighting specific Obama administration accomplishments that would be jeopardized if a Republican wins in November, from gun control to the Affordable Care Act. “I know that a Republican president would delight in the very first day, reversing executive orders that President Obama has made,” Clinton said in a statement sent to reporters this week.
The campaign almost never mentions Sanders by name, even as it reminds supporters not to let their guard down and to take his challenge seriously. “We cannot underestimate our opponent,” campaign manager Robby Mook said in a fundraising email to supporters Monday. “He’s raising a lot of money and building a big ground operation in Iowa, because he knows the results there will set the tone for the rest of this primary.”
The electability argument may not be the most inspiring approach. While Sanders invites supporters to dream about a revolution that leads to a better world, Clinton pulls voters back down to Earth by reminding them they’re actually more likely to make things far worse if Democrats can’t just hold the line.
While the argument may not stir the spirits, it does seems to be working, at least with some voters. Waiting for Hillary Clinton to speak at Iowa’s State Historical Museum Monday, Barbara Nunn, 80, and her friend Barbara Borst, 74, told MSNBC they were torn as the caucus date neared.
Both spoke highly of Sanders – Borst praised his “everyman” style and stance on campaign finance reform while Nunn cited his youth appeal – but they were uncommitted in part due to concerns about whether Sanders could make it through a brutal general election and then enact his agenda.
“I’m not sure Bernie can carry everyone,” Borst said. “Hillary has the experience, she has the connections and she’s polished.”
“I’m scared to death of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” Nunn said. “I just want the one who will carry the election because we can’t have either of them.”
Newly disclosed emails show that Libya’s plan to create a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and dollar was a motive for NATO’s intervention.
The New Year’s Eve release of over 3,000 new Hillary Clinton emails from the State Department has CNN abuzz over gossipy text messages, the “who gets to ride with Hillary” selection process set up by her staff, and how a “cute” Hillary photo fared on Facebook.
But historians of the 2011 NATO war in Libya will be sure to notice a few of the truly explosive confirmations contained in the new emails: admissions of rebel war crimes, special ops trainers inside Libya from nearly the start of protests, Al Qaeda embedded in the U.S. backed opposition, Western nations jockeying for access to Libyan oil, the nefarious origins of the absurd Viagra mass rape claim, and concern over Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves threatening European currency.
Hillary’s Death Squads
A March 27, 2011, intelligence brief on Libya, sent by long time close adviser to the Clintons and Hillary’s unofficial intelligence gatherer, Sidney Blumenthal, contains clear evidence of war crimes on the part of NATO-backed rebels. Citing a rebel commander source “speaking in strict confidence” Blumenthal reports to Hillary [emphasis mine]:
Under attack from allied Air and Naval forces, the Libyan Army troops have begun to desert to the rebel side in increasing numbers. The rebels are making an effort to greet these troops as fellow Libyans, in an effort to encourage additional defections.
(Source Comment: Speaking in strict confidence, one rebel commander stated that his troopscontinue to summarily execute all foreign mercenaries captured in the fighting…).
While the illegality of extra-judicial killings is easy to recognize (groups engaged in such are conventionally termed “death squads”), the sinister reality behind the “foreign mercenaries” reference might not be as immediately evident to most.
While over the decades Gaddafi was known to make use of European and other international security and infrastructural contractors, there is no evidence to suggest that these were targeted by the Libyan rebels.
There is, however, ample documentation by journalists, academics, and human rights groups demonstrating that black Libyan civilians and sub-Saharan contract workers, a population favored by Gaddafi in his pro-African Union policies, were targets of “racial cleansing” by rebels who saw black Libyans as tied closely with the regime.
Black Libyans were commonly branded as “foreign mercenaries” by the rebel opposition for their perceived general loyalty to Gaddafi as a community and subjected to torture, executions, and their towns “liberated” by ethnic cleansing. This is demonstrated in the most well-documented example of Tawergha, an entire town of 30,000 black and “dark-skinned” Libyans which vanished by August 2011 after its takeover by NATO-backed NTC Misratan brigades.
These attacks were well-known as late as 2012 and often filmed, as this report from The Telegraphconfirms:
After Muammar Gaddafi was killed, hundreds of migrant workers from neighboring states were imprisoned by fighters allied to the new interim authorities. They accuse the black Africans of having been mercenaries for the late ruler. Thousands of sub-Saharan Africans have been rounded up since Gaddafi fell in August.
It appears that Clinton was getting personally briefed on the battlefield crimes of her beloved anti-Gaddafi fighters long before some of the worst of these genocidal crimes took place.
Al-Qaeda and Western Special Forces Inside Libya
The same intelligence email from Sydney Blumenthal also confirms what has become a well-known theme of Western supported insurgencies in the Middle East: the contradiction of special forces training militias that are simultaneously suspected of links to Al Qaeda.
Blumenthal relates that “an extremely sensitive source” confirmed that British, French, and Egyptian special operations units were training Libyan militants along the Egyptian-Libyan border, as well as in Benghazi suburbs.
While analysts have long speculated as to the “when and where” of Western ground troop presence in the Libyan War, this email serves as definitive proof that special forces were on the ground only within a month of the earliest protests which broke out in the middle to end of February 2011 in Benghazi.
By March 27 of what was commonly assumed a simple “popular uprising” external special operatives were already “overseeing the transfer of weapons and supplies to the rebels” including “a seemingly endless supply of AK47 assault rifles and ammunition.”
Yet only a few paragraphs after this admission, caution is voiced about the very militias these Western special forces were training because of concern that, “radical/terrorist groups such as the Libyan Fighting Groups and Al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are infiltrating the NLC and its military command.”
The Threat of Libya’s Oil and Gold to French Interests
Though the French-proposed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 claimed the no-fly zone implemented over Libya was to protect civilians, an April 2011 email sent to Hillary with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold” tells of less noble ambitions.
The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”
Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency. In place of the noble sounding “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine fed to the public, there is this “confidential” explanation of what was really driving the war [emphasis mine]:
This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).
(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.)
Though this internal email aims to summarize the motivating factors driving France’s (and by implication NATO’s) intervention in Libya, it is interesting to note that saving civilian lives is conspicuously absent from the briefing.
Instead, the great fear reported is that Libya might lead North Africa into a high degree of economic independence with a new pan-African currency.
French intelligence “discovered” a Libyan initiative to freely compete with European currency through a local alternative, and this had to be subverted through military aggression.
The Ease of Floating Crude Propaganda
Early in the Libyan conflict Secretary of State Clinton formally accused Gaddafi and his army of using mass rape as a tool of war. Though numerous international organizations, like Amnesty International, quickly debunked these claims, the charges were uncritically echoed by Western politicians and major media.
It seemed no matter how bizarre the conspiracy theory, as long as it painted Gaddafi and his supporters as monsters, and so long as it served the cause of prolonged military action in Libya, it was deemed credible by network news.
Two foremost examples are referenced in the latest batch of emails: the sensational claim that Gaddafi issued Viagra to his troops for mass rape, and the claim that bodies were “staged” by the Libyan government at NATO bombing sites to give the appearance of the Western coalition bombing civilians.
In a late March 2011 email, Blumenthal confesses to Hillary that,
I communicated more than a week ago on this story—Qaddafi placing bodies to create PR stunts about supposed civilian casualties as a result of Allied bombing—though underlining it was a rumor. But now, as you know, Robert gates gives credence to it. (See story below.)
Sources now say, again rumor (that is, this information comes from the rebel side and is unconfirmed independently by Western intelligence), that Qaddafi has adopted a rape policy and has even distributed Viagra to troops. The incident at the Tripoli press conference involving a woman claiming to be raped is likely to be part of a much larger outrage. Will seek further confirmation.
Not only did Defense Secretary Robert Gates promote his bizarre “staged bodies” theory on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” but the even stranger Viagra rape fiction made international headlines as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice made a formal charge against Libya in front of the UN Security Council.
What this new email confirms is that not only was the State Department aware of the spurious nature of what Blumenthal calls “rumors” originating solely with the rebels, but did nothing to stop false information from rising to top officials who then gave them “credence.”
It appears, furthermore, that the Viagra mass rape hoax likely originated with Sidney Blumenthal himself.
Story by: Brad Hoff
Two ex-Guantanamo detainees are in town and the whole Ghana is in a state of trepidation.
The Mahama-led administration and the US government have given the assurance that all is well since security measures have been put in place to check the duo, who will be Ghana’s guests for the next two years.
Cartoonist Makaveli depicts how the two were paraded in town when they landed.