Stories written by Francis Kokutse
Franics Kokutse is a freelance journalist based in Accra. In addition to IPS, he works for other media organisations including Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires, The Nation Group of Kenya and is also the West Africa Correspondent for the New Delhi-based Indo Asian News Service. Francis is also a published poet on Poemhunters.com.

GHANA: Struggle to Prevent Import of Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit medicines have flooded the market in Ghana and have even made their way into government hospitals as the country’s drug regulator struggles to control the importation of drugs.

There are no laws to regulate the activities of microfinance companies in Ghana. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

GHANA: Guidelines for Unregulated Microfinance Sector

When Andrew Poku's mother passed away he needed help to pay for her funeral. So the 35-year-old teacher from Accra turned to one of the country's several loan companies for a 670-dollar loan.

GHANA: Political Parties Urged to Come Clean

There are growing fears that lack of transparency on how political parties are being funded has given rise to corruption.

ECONOMY-AFRICA: The “Threat” of an Independent Private Sector

From Algeria to Zimbabwe, there have been calls to develop the private sector. But some governments regard independent private sectors as a threat to their power and have even actively blocked business. Meanwhile African women have had a particularly raw deal in business. Some Africans question whether the private sector or the state should drive development.

AFRICA: Broken Promises Litter the Aftermath of Global Crisis

It seems that, once again, Africa and the rest of the developing world have been short-changed, given the broken promises in the wake of the global economic implosion.

Q&A: “African Farmers Benefit When They Organise Themselves”

Research into an initiative to improve the lot of Ghanaian farmers shows how important it is that farmers organise themselves to improve their bargaining power with buyers.

DEVELOPMENT-AFRICA: Airwaves Changing Lives of the Physically Challenged

In the past physically challenged Theophilus Ayim would have been kept behind closed doors by his family because they feared he would be scorned and ridiculed by the community.

Q&A: EPAs Will Provide Africa With "Better Export Opportunities"

The European Union has pressurised Ghana to sign an economic partnership agreement (EPA) despite civil society concerns being raised about the detrimental effects further trade liberalisation will have on development in the West African country.

Barrack Obama: 'Wealthy nations must open our doors to goods and services from Africa in a meaningful way.' Credit:  U.S. Govt

U.S.-AFRICA: 'Mutual Partnership and Mutual Respect'

"We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans," U.S. president Barack Obama told Ghana's parliament. And the keys to that future, as outlined in his speech, include democratic elections, accountability, good governance and strong institutions.

Market queens control the market for fresh vegetables in Ghana. Credit:  Evans Mensah/IRIN

GHANA: Tomato Queens Short-Change Farmers

When you meet Naomi Aframea, 60, in the streets of Accra, you could take her for any other Ghanaian woman going about her business. But step into her stall at Agbobloshie Market, one of the capital’s satellite markets, and amidst stacks of the wooden crates used to ship tomatoes, you sense her power.

TRADE: ECOWAS Delay on EPA Allows Ghana to Re-Think

There are conflicting signals about whether west African countries will sign an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union, as the original deadline of Jun 30 has been postponed and stakeholders hold different views on the new deadline of end Oct. This may still allow Ghana to re-think its interim EPA.

GHANA-ECONOMY: Credit Crunch Starts To Bite

When the news of the global financial crisis broke in Ghana last year, the then-President John Kufuor said the country’s economy was insulated against the effects of the credit crunch being reported in Europe and the United States. There now seems to be an admission now that ripples are being felt.

AFRICA: ‘‘Invest in Job Creation to Buffer Global Crisis’’

African governments should invest in creating jobs, providing social services and building food security to shield people against the effects of the global economic and financial crisis. They should also develop micro-credit facilities to make money available to small businesspeople and boost economies.

Watering maize: GM is touted as key to improving food security; environmental activists urge caution; thus far Ghanaian consumers seem indifferent. Credit:  Louise Stippel/USAID

AGRICULTURE-GHANA: Few Signs of Concern as GM Crops Advance

Ghanaians are daily consuming genetically modified (GM) products imported by various traders without much care. However, as the government prepares to allow the planting of GM crops locally in a bid to boost food production, one non-governmental organisation, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ghana is sounding the alarm.

A new borehole: Ghana's shadow MDG report survey found 48.3 percent believe govt has done little on providing access to safe drinking water; 51.7 percent believed the government is on track... Credit:  USAID

WATER-GHANA: Something Doesn't Add Up

It looks like someone is not telling it as it is as far as meeting the Ghana’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on water supply is concerned.

GHANA: Cadbury’s Deal Destined to Sweeten More Farmers’ Lives

The initiative linking British chocolate giant Cadbury’s with a Ghanaian cooperative representing 40,000 cocoa farmers is set to grow further and enhance the livelihoods of more farmers.

MEDIA-GHANA: Unusual Bedfellows Push for Change

There has been a clamour to tighten up oversight and regulation of Ghana’s broadcasters from unusual bedfellows - the state-sponsored National Media Commission (NMC) and the Ghana Journalists" Association (GJA). The bodies have, in separate initiatives, slammed attempts to "privatise" the state-owned Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) and have railed against the practices of commercial radio stations.

TRADE-GHANA: Rice Farmers’ Markets So Close and Yet Out of Reach

Last year, rice farmers took to the streets of Ghana’s capital of Accra and accused the government of allowing imports to destroy their livelihoods.

POLITICS-GHANA: New President Must Tackle Economy

As Ghana’s president-elect, John Evans Atta Mills, prepares to take office, he has his work cut out for him translating several years of strong macro-economic performance into tangible benefits for the majority of Ghanaians.

GHANA: Indecisive On Small Arms Control

It is estimated that there are eight million small arms in circulation in the West African subregion, with grave consequences for the region's security.

Cocoa leaves discoloured by swollen shoot disease. Credit:  Francis Kokutse/IPS

TRADE-WEST AFRICA: Swollen Shoot Disease Devastating Cocoa Trees

On a hot November afternoon, Opanin Owusu Adu showed me around his farm on the outskirts of Suhum, a town in the Eastern Region in Ghana.

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