Six more AU member-states are expected to deposit ratifications of the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) with the African Union (AU), a senior AU official said on Thursday.
The coming moves by the six countries will raise the number of ratifications to 17, and only five more ratifications are needed for the AfCFTA to come into force, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, told a press conference at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Eleven countries, including, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Eswatini (Swaziland), Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Mali, and Namibia have already deposited their instruments of ratifications, while six more namely, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Congo, Togo, Mauritania, and Senegal are expected to deposit it by around the AU summit being held from Feb. 7 to 11, according to the Commissioner.
The agreement establishing the AfCFTA was opened for signature in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on March 21, 2018, and 49 of the 55 AU member states have signed it so far.
“We expect two more signatures during this summit which will leave only four countries yet to sign,” the AU Commissioner noted.
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Government to address Agbogbloshie e-waste and open defecation
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that the construction of a state-of-the-art recycling facility at Agbogbloshie will commence in April.
The move, he said would help to solve the problem of waste disposal in an environmentally-friendly manner and create over 20,000 direct jobs, through the establishment of associated holding centres in each regional capital and collection centres in each district.
President Akufo-Addo, said this when delivering the State of the Nation’s Address in Accra on Thursday.
He stated that the facility formed part of government’s efforts towards addressing the problem of electronic waste comprehensively.
“On August 20, 2018, I launched the National E-waste Programme to mark the commencement of two key provisions of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act, Act 917.
“These provisions empower the External Service Provider to verify, assess and collect the advance recycle eco fee on all electrical and electronic equipment from all exporting countries”.
Touching on open defecation, the President said it was unfortunate that, in 2019, the country had to revisit this topic saying open defecation could not be a characteristic of a country that was working to be transformed economically and to be counted amongst the developed nations of the world.
President Akufo-Addo, said government together with stakeholders last year, built 35,862 household toilets to ensure access to toilet and reduce open defecation.
At the district level, he said the Community Led Total Sanitation Programme was being implemented in over 4,500 communities in 130 districts to achieve Open Defecation Free Communities.
President Akufo-Addo stated that the government and partners would continue to educate and sensitise people, on the need to stop open defecation as well as enforce the bye-laws to ensure cleanliness.
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President urges Ghanaians to eat healthy diet
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says that apart from exercising and taking regular health check-ups seriously, it is imperative that Ghanaians eat healthy diets to prevent diseases that are caused by poor choices of nutrition.
He said Ghana’s hardworking nurses and doctors would do their best, as they had always done, to make sure Ghanaians get the best health care; however, it behoves on everyone to look after themselves better.
President Akufo-Addo made the remarks on Thursday in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered to Parliament.
“When our children master the connection between science and their everyday lives, we would reach the stage in Ghana where we would be rid of the many diseases, borne of filth and poor hygiene, that are still part of our lives,” he said.
“In pursuing these goals, we need to remind ourselves repeatedly that health is wealth, and it is only a healthy population that can make Ghana prosperous.”
He noted that in May 2018, Ghana won accolades at the World Health Assembly for having eradicated Trachoma, an eye disease that had plagued Ghanaians for a long time.
He said today, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was buoyant; adding that the Government had paid up the GH¢1.2 billion arrears, which it inherited, and brought the operations of the NHIS back to life.
He recounted that on 19th December, 2018, the introduction of mobile renewal of membership was launched.
President Akufo-Addo said since then, there had been, on average, seventy thousand (70,000) members renewing their membership every week, by dialling *929# on any mobile phone network.
He said soon, in collaboration with the National Identification Authority, Ghanaians would be able to register, renew and access health care services using the Ghana Card.
“We have to thank Dr. Samuel Annor’s brief, but productive stewardship as Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority for that. I wish him well in his retirement,” the President stated.
President Akufo-Addo said to deliver healthcare to Ghanaians more efficiently, in 2018, Government granted financial clearance for the recruitment of 11,018 health personnel to increase existing clinical staff.
He said to augment the efforts of clinical staff, in September, 2018, the Ministry of Health received further financial clearance to employ 14,254 Nurse Assistants (Clinical and Preventive).
He said these nurse assistants belong to the tranche that passed their exams in 2016 from Government Health Training Institutions, and have commenced work by 1st February, 2019.
President Akufo-Addo said the Ministry of Health was working to obtain financial clearance for the recruitment of the 2017 and 2018 graduates.
He said the health delivery system would be significantly strengthened by the expected arrival in June of 275 ambulances; that is one per constituency, to make treatment of emergency cases more effective.
He said drone technology had also been introduced into that system to help deliver essential medicine, blood and blood products to remote communities.
“We still face problems of inadequate infrastructure in our health establishments. We have problems of numerous structures at various stages of completion that cannot be finished and brought into use, because newer structures are being started, and there is no money to finish the ones started earlier.”
He said again, this was a long-standing problem that was a mark of our underdevelopment.
“We will not ignore or sweep the problem under the carpet. We are dealing with it, and will complete them,” he said.
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World Bank supports Ghana tourism with $40m grant
President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has announced that the World Bank has approved a $40 million grant to support the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts and its agencies to help upgrade tourist facilities.
The President said the Ghana Tourism Authority recorded a 20 per cent growth, recording over 600,000 visitations to various tourist sites under the “See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana and Feel Ghana campaign”.
The campaign was to encourage the consumption locally manufactured beverages in the country to boost the economy.
The President made the announcement on Thursday in Accra in his third State of the Nation Address to Parliament.
He said the country had finalised the Creative Arts Bill, leading to the setting up of the Creative Arts Fund, adding that, in 2018, government provided support to the Creative Arts Council, and the Creative Arts Masterclass, to build capacity of Creative Arts practitioners in the sector.
“The Eastern Regional Theatre had been completed, and work was ongoing towards the construction of the Kumasi theatre”, he added.
He said the Hospitality Training Institute had been renovated, and re-opened in July 2018 to provide the needed training in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
“Under a Tourism Attractions Upgrade Project, several tourist sites, including Elmina Heritage Bay, Axim Fort St. Antonio, Assin Manso Slave River, Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm, Bunso Arboretum, Kintampo Water Falls, are undergoing upgrades”.
He said a draft Legislative Instrument on Sites and Attractions was currently undergoing final stakeholder consultations to ensure that world-class standards were set and maintained at all tourism sites.
Touching on support to persons with disabilities, President Akufo-Addo announced an increase share of the District Assemblies Common Fund to Persons with Disabilities from 2 per cent to 3 per cent.
He added that, government had ensured the implementation of its pledge of employing 50 per cent of the persons who manage the country’s toll booths from amongst Persons with Disabilities.
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