Monday, August 6, 2012

Methodist Church Ghana and REP Establish a Rural Technology Facility for job creation

The Methodist Church Ghana in collaboration with the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) has established a Rural Technology Facility (ORTF) in Offinso in the Ashanti Region. The establishment of the GH¢459,000 facility marks a unique partnership between the public and private sector in the delivery of services for enterprises development. The establishment of the facility was initiated by the Kumasi Diocese of the Methodist Church and supported by REP-II. 

The ORTF, located at Offinso-Adukro, will train the youth in and around the Offinso Municipality in viable trades and equip them with employable skills. The facility’s operation will also increase access to improved technology by the rural enterprises in the district and beyond. It will also train artisans and apprentices in engineering based technology to manufacture the requisite equipment and machinery to reduce the drudgery associated with the use of traditional technologies. The Facility will work closely with the Business Advisory Centre and the Offinso Municipal Assembly to provide integrated business support services to establish and grow businesses in the municipality.

Speaking at the commissioning of the ORTF, Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh congratulated the leadership and members of the Methodist Church for their initiative to establish the facility. She explained that such public-private partnership reduces the pressure on government’s scarce resources for development activities and also promotes greater efficiency in the management of interventions, leading to improved services.

The facility if properly managed, will serve as a catalyst for industrialization and strengthen basic engineering and technology transfer capacity at the Municipal level and help improve product quality as well as productivity and competitiveness of rural enterprises. This should translate into the transfer of appropriate technology to farmers, agro-processors, metal- based artisans and allied enterprises. It should also promote the training of the unemployed youth as well as apprentices in viable artisanal trades. The Facility should ensure that our farmers and enterprises have easy access to technology”, Ms Tetteh emphasised. 

The Trade and Industry Minister noted that the successful operation and sustainability of the facility will depend on effective management of the RTF. She therefore charged the RTF’s management board, made of up of the Methodist Church, Municipal Assembly, practising technologists, traditional rulers, opinion leaders and local trade associations, to provide strategic direction in the operation of the facility. “The Board should ensure that farmers, agro-processors and artisans are supported with appropriate technology to increase their output and income...The activities of the facility should be directly linked with agriculture to prevent post harvest loss and promote technology based agriculture. This will entice the youth to consider agriculture as a career option,” Ms Tetteh advised.
Ashanti Regional Regional Minister, Dr. Kweku Agyeman Mensah, mentioned that the Offinso RTF, together with three established RTFs in the region would promote the transfer of improved technology and increase the competitiveness of enterprises in the region. He said the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (ARCC) is delighted to be associated with REP because of its focus on investing in people, jobs and the economy. “This I believe is one of the surest ways of reducing poverty and improving the living conditions of the rural poor. I hope all the districts in the region will participate in the Rural Enterprises Programme to enable more people increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods”, Dr. Agyeman Mensah added.

The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church Ghana, Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, said his church has over the years undertaken numerous socio-economic activities to empower the poor and reduce poverty. Prof. Asante explained that it is in fulfillment of this mandate of the Church that the Methodist Development and Relief Services (MDRS) was established in 2003. 

“The Methodist Church, Ghana through the Methodist Development and Relief Services initiated discussions on areas of collaboration with the Rural Enterprises Project Phase Two based on our common development agenda in improving the quality of life of the vulnerable in rural areas. This led to the organization of various skills training programmes and business support services for members of the church in a number of communities and districts. Through these interventions members of the church have established their own businesses leading to increase in incomes”, Prof. Asante said.
National Programme Director of REP, Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi, said REP since its inception as the Rural Enterprises Project has collaborated with other micro and small enterprises support institutions, including NGOs, to improve living conditions in rural areas, through self and wage employment. Mr. Attah-Antwi mentioned that there have been discussions to increase the participation of the private sector in the establishment and operations of the RTFs nationwide to make them more sustainable.

A Rural Technology Facility is a technical workshop equipped with metal working machines for technical training and the development and promotion of appropriate technology to micro and small-scale enterprises (MSEs) in the municipality or district. It consists mainly of two sections: metal machining and automobile repair; and welding/fabrication.

The Minister for Trade and Industry inaugurated the ORTF and was assisted by the Ashanti Regional Minister. The Omanhene of the Offinso Traditional Area, Nana Wiafe Akenten III witnessed the event. Also present at the event were numerous members of the Methodist Church, traditional rulers, and residents of Offinso. 


REP supports SME operators in Elmina

The Rural Enterprise Programme (REP) has presented various tools valued at GH¢50,000 to 60 small-scale entrepreneurs in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (KEEA) Municipality, to help develop that sector to grow the local economy. The tools include welding machines, hairdressing equipment including hair dryers, barbering kit, electric sewing machines and vulcanizing machines.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Joseph Samuel Annan, said the Government of Ghana would continue to assist the micro and small-scale sector until it was fully developed. This he said was because the sector is the engine of growth of every nation and must therefore be supported to harness its potentials and helped to generate more jobs for poverty reduction.

He said posterity would not forgive the present generation if it failed to provide meaningful livelihoods for its people and called on the youth as well as the unemployed to avail themselves of such opportunities to learn trades. Dr. Annan, who is also the Member of Parliament for KEEA, asked the beneficiaries to be more studious and to learn new methods of plying their various trades to keep them in business and also ensure that the tools were kept in good conditions to prolong their lifespan.

The Financial Controller of REP, Mr. Charles Mensah, said the provision of the equipment by the Programme was to support young people, who have undergone apprenticeship training but are unable to set up their own businesses, to do so. Mr. Mensah therefore urged the beneficiaries to ensure that the businesses were set-up in their areas. He mentioned that the beneficiaries are also expected to train more people in their various communities to help improve the local economy and living conditions.

The Chief of Abrem-Agona , Nana Terpo V, praised the Ministry of Trade and Industry  and REP for the support. He explained that the equipment would help keep the youth in business and stop them from idling about.

REP Organizes Zonal Start-up and Sensitisation Workshops for Municipal and District Assemblies

Municipal and district assemblies in the country have been sensitized on the new Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) at four separate workshops in Elmina, Tamale and Sunyani.  Participants of the workshops included Chief Executives (M/DCEs), Coordinating Directors (M/DCD), Staff of Business Advisory Centres (BACs) and other staff of the assemblies. Three of the workshops were both start-up and sensitisation workshops and were organised for districts and municipal assemblies that did not take part in the Rural Enterprises Project Phases I and II (REP-I and II).  The new districts were grouped into three zones of Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and Western regions; Central, Greater Accra, Eastern and Volta regions; and Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The purpose of the workshop was to inform the participants about the Programme and eligibility selection criteria of prospective districts, and share common expectations from the REP’s intervention. These workshops became necessary following the upscale of the REP-I and II, into the current national programme, covering 161 Municipal and District Assemblies in the country.  
The Trade and Industry Minister, Hon. Hannah Tetteh, addressed the participants of all four workshops. Ms. Tetteh said REP is part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Private Sector Development Strategy II to foster the development of sustainable corporate strategies for enterprise growth and job creation and aid in rural poverty reduction.
“The contribution of micro and small enterprises to employment, growth and sustainable development is now widely acknowledged.  Micro and small enterprises have been duly recognised as a major source of economic growth and have provided countless job opportunities to people living in the rural areas. Starting and expanding a micro or small business, is one of the most promising and sustainable routes of improving the standards of living in our communities.   The benefits of micro and small enterprises are far reaching and powerful and my Ministry through the Rural Enterprises Programme is targeting them as a way of making a contribution to improving the living standards in the rural communities” Ms. Tetteh stated.
She explained that the successes achieved in the 66 participating assemblies of REP-I and II encouraged the Government of Ghana to upscale the project to 161 districts under a new Rural Enterprises Programme (REP). Ms. Tetteh said micro and small-scale businesses in the 66 beneficiary districts had seen tremendous and rapid development, providing job opportunities to people living in rural areas thereby improving upon their standards of living.
The Trade and Industry Minister urged the district assemblies to embrace REP to propel the growth of enterprises and micro-businesses at the rural level. “REP is therefore giving the opportunity to all municipal and  district assemblies to participate and develop a sustainable district based micro and small enterprise support system  for rural enterprise development, job creation and improvement in livelihoods and income”, She said.
Ms Tetteh, however, cautioned that in order to benefit from the Programme, the prospective assemblies must demonstrate full committed to the implementation of REP. They should also ensure that REP is mainstreamed into the district assembly structure as part of government’s decentralisation process.

To qualify for enrolment into REP, prospective districts must do the following: provide at least two room furnished office accommodation for the establishment of an implementing unit; and recruit at people with local knowledge to work at the implementing units. They should also establish a Sub Committee on MSE promotion to coordinate   all initiatives on the development and growth of enterprises in the district; and be prepared to meet part of the recurrent cost of the from the second year of enrollment.
The National Programme Director of REP, Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi, gave an overview of the Programme and its linkage with REP-I and II which were implemented from 1995 to 2011. He mentioned that the total cost of the Programme is US$185 million and is being financed by the Government of Ghana (GOG), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and African Development Bank (AfDB). The REP district-based model for MSE promotion will continue to be used for programme implementation, He explained. The model is made up of the following implementing units: Business Advisory Centres (BACs), Rural Technology Facilities (RTFs) and Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) which include rural community banks and the ARB Apex Bank.
Mr Attah-Antwi, said the success of the Programme will depend on the acceptability, leadership, ownership and commitment shown by beneficiary districts and appealed to the beneficiaries to maintain the same motivation and commitment to enable them to have the full benefit of the REP.
The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Moses Bukari Mabengba, in an address read for him at the Tamale workshop described REP as a development channel that the various assemblies could use to better the lives of the people. He added that “As part of implementation of the Programme, the Regional Coordination Council would provide backstopping to the districts through the Regional Committee on MSE Promotion”. This would ensure that the new districts participated effectively to improve the livelihood of the people.
Other participants of the workshops were officials of Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Central and Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinating Councils. Others were from the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), Local Government Services and Methodist Development and Relief Services (MDRS).

Implementation of the Rural Enterprises Programme begins with a National Start-up Workshop

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) of Ghana has organized a national start-up workshop for the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo region. The 3-day workshop officially marks the beginning of the implementation of the Programme in the country, which is the third phase of the Rural Enterprises Project Phases I and II.  The purpose of the workshop was to inform and adequately educate key stakeholders on the details and implementation arrangements of the Programme, provide a forum for the critical actors to interact with the key stakeholders, programme leaders and government functionaries on REP. The workshop was also to discuss programme implementation plan and budget with stakeholders and obtain the necessary feedback for effective and efficient programme implementation.

 The Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, addressed the opening ceremony of the workshop. She praised the funding partners of the Programme, Municipal and District assemblies, GRATIS Foundation, National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), REP management team for creating a Programme that has helped in deepening economic growth and strengthening the economy. Ms Tetteh mentioned that the government is committed to building the capacities at the community, district, regional and national levels to ensure that the growth and development of Ghana is more inclusive and participatory. The Trade and Industry Minister explained that REP provides an appropriate platform for districts to coordinate, streamline and mainstream enterprises and employment generation interventions in a sustainable manner. Moving towards the goal of sustainable enterprises development through decentralisation requires basic changes in institutions, human attitudes and behaviour, she said.
Ms Tetteh stressed that the implementing entities of REP should carefully study the district-based model for MSE promotion and position themselves to boost the up-scaling and mainstreaming of the model within the existing public and private institutions. She mentioned that more Rural Technology Facilities (RTFs) would be established as centers of excellence for agricultural machinery, promotion of standardisation, hostels for apprentices and mastercrfatsmen, additional equipment, guillotine cutting machines and foundries to be able to develop additional equipment.
 Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr. Ernest Opoku, said the Regional Co-ordinating Council (BARCC) is delighted to be associated with the Programme, because of its development focus on creating economic opportunities for the people and enhancing their livelihoods. Twelve districts in the Brong Ahafo region participated in the first and second phases of the Programme. Mr. Opoku assured that the BARCC would continue to support the Programme to ensure that all districts in the region would have the opportunity to receive support for the promotion of enterprises. He appealed to all participants and stakeholders to take the workshop serious and share views dispassionately.
Country Portfolio Manager of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Ulac Demirag, said REP represents a flagship programme for the partnership between the Government of Ghana and IFAD. He also mentioned that IFAD sees REP as an excellent example for scaling up successful approaches together with their co-financing partner, the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Dr. Demirag commended all stakeholders and implementing partners for their strong leadership in the successful implementation of REP 1 & II and the design of the third Phase. He added that the programme marked IFAD’s largest investment in its partnership with Ghana so far. He also expressed IFAD’s happiness of AfDB’s agreement to continue the successful partnership. He stressed that the success of the programme would strongly depend on the ownership and commitment of the beneficiary districts. Dr. Demirag entreated REP to pay more attention to Upper East and West regions because of the high levels of poverty there.
A representative of AfDB, Mr. Tabi Kakari, said REP-I &II had shown that skills development could play a key role in upgrading the living standards of Ghanaians through the creation of sustainable jobs and businesses. He mentioned the Bank’s eagerness to partner IFAD again in the implementation of the Programme. Mr. Kakari explained the rationale behind the Bank’s involvement in the Programme. These include the high priority placed on food security by the government of Ghana; and the potential to reduce rural-urban migration and social upheavals. Others are the potential of REP to enhance the role of agriculture as an engine of inclusive growth; and the recent high emphasis and priority of the Bank to enhance capacity for youth employment in Africa through entrepreneurial skill and development.
Mr. Kakari also spoke on the AfDB’s appraisal of the REP. He mentioned that the Bank perceives the RTFs as centers of excellence in metal works, machinery fabrication and services support. To enhance the RTFs as learning centers, the Bank’s pre-appraisal has established the need to provide hostel facilities at the RTFs. The pre-appraisal has observed the need to provide resource centers to support market linkages and provide platform for just-in-time deliveries by local business associations.
National Programme Director of REP, Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi, presented an overview of the Programme and traced its background to the implementation of REP-I &II. He mentioned that the Programme’s management expect participants to leave the workshop motivated and committed to play their respective roles to ensure the successful implementation of REP.
The rest of the workshop period was used to discuss highlights of on-going pre-appraisal by AfDB; programme financial management; reporting and auditing arrangement; monitoring and evaluation framework; and annual performance plan and budgets. They were also syndicated group works. Participants’ views on  the topics discussed were captured for consideration during the programme implementation.
The 61 workshop participants were drawn from the expected key stakeholders of the Programme. They included officials from IFAD; AfDB; REP; Ministry of Trade and Industry; Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development; Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; Ministry of Food and Agriculture; and Ministry of Women and Children’s Affair. Others were from the Local Government Service Secretariat; Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council; NBSSI; GRATIS Foundation; District and Municipal Assemblies; Business Advisory Centres (BACs); RTFs;  and clients of REP-I &II. The rest were from the  ARB Apex Bank; INBAR; Methodist Development and Relief Services; Roots and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP); RAFiP; Registrar General's Department and facilitators.
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), Mr. Nii Ansah Adjaye, chaired work.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Government of Ghana launches the Rural Enterprises Programme

The Government of Ghana has launched the Rural Enterprises Programme in Mankessim, in the Mfantseman Municipality of the Central Region, to promote micro and small-scale enterprises (MSE) development in the country. The President of the Republic of Ghana (then Vice President), John Mahama, launched the Programme. REP seeks to upscale and mainstream the district-based MSE support system, piloted by the Rural Enterprises Project Phases I & II (REP-I & II, within public and private institutional systems. The Government of Ghana, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) are financing the US$185 million Programme.

About 600,000 rural poor MSEs in some 161 municipalities and districts nationwide would receive various forms of support under REP from 2012-2020. It would also establish about 36,000 new businesses and strengthen 70,000 existing ones to generate profit, growth and employment opportunities. REP would pay particular attention to vulnerable groups including rural women and the youth through youth and gender action plans. This way, REP would attract the youth into MSEs and value chain opportunities in order to face the challenges of unemployment and underemployment.

Speaking at a colourful ceremony to launch the Programme, H.E. Mr. John Mahama appealed to the youth to show interest in REP and take advantage of the opportunities it offers to better their living conditions. He particularly urged junior high school graduate, who could not continue their formal education, to avail themselves for training in employable skills under REP. He acknowledged the contribution of REP-I& II, since 1995, in developing the MSE sector – a sector whose contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product could not be ignored.

Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon. Hanna Tetteh, said that the Programme forms part of Government's efforts to reduce poverty and improve the living conditions in the rural areas. She therefore charged municipal and district assemblies (MDAs) to collaborate with REP in their districts to alleviate the plight of the rural poor. Ms Tetteh said REP was a demand-driven initiative, as such beneficiary MDAs would be expected to provide offices, personnel, and provide counter-part funds to run the programme’s activities in the districts.

She mentioned that a Department of Trade and Industry (DOTI) is to be established in all districts to promote industrialisation at the district level and build the capacities of MSEs to make them competitive. She also announced the construction of an ultramodern Rural Technology Facility (RTF) workshop in Mankessim to provide technical training and improved technology for MSEs.

Central Regional Minister, Hon. Ama Benyiwa-Doe, said the surest way to create wealth and reduce poverty is through empowering the people with skills and knowledge to make them productive and economically independent. She therefore appealed to the youth to take advantage of the Programme and go into self-initiated businesses, adding that “this will contribute to the development of the country and tone down the incidence of rural-urban migration.”

The Resident Representative of the AfDB, Mrs Marie Laure Akin-Olugbade, said her outfit got involved in the REP –II with the objective of slowing rural-urban drift, contributing to sustainable job creation and disseminating appropriate technologies. She assured the gathering that the Bank was prepared to take part in the implementation of REP and support the Government of Ghana in promoting the development of entrepreneurship.

National Programme Director of the REP, Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, said the programme would provide business development services to MSEs , transfer technical skills, disseminate technologies and give financial support to MSEs for the development of pro-poor institutions and policies.

The Omanhene of Mankessim, Osagyefo Amanfo-Adu VI, commended the Government and donor partners for establishing a Rural Technology Facility in the area to create jobs for the youth. Osagyefo Amanfo-Adu asked Ghanaians to patronize goods produced by beneficiaries of the REP to sustain the programme’s intervention.

The occasion was also used to inaugurate the Mankessim Rural Technology Facility. Thirty eight (38) individuals, who had been trained in hairdressing, dressmaking, leatherworks, radio mechanics, motor vehicle mechanics, electrical and vulcanising were presented with start-up kits to start their own businesses. A 4-day tradeshow and exhibition was mounted to display various products made by clients of REP-I& II.