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.

Does the handful of women nominated bode well for the future? Credit:  Mercedes Sayagues/IPS

POLITICS-GHANA: The Fruits of the Future

The upside: three political parties selected women as vice-presidential candidates in the general elections of Dec. 7, the first time ever in Ghana’s history. The downside: the parties are small and have no real chance of victory.

Defining the code that will guide resource extraction in West Africa is vital.  Credit:  Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

MINING-WEST AFRICA: ECOWAS Stirs Up Trouble With MOU

The Economic Community of West African States has taken the unprecedented step of inviting Oxfam America to coordinate the drawing up of a mining code for the region. The decision has infuriated some civil society organisations.

POLITICS-GHANA: The Steep Price of Getting Elected

Mawusi Awity and her husband were willing to jeopardize his military career for her dream of running for parliament in Ghana but there was another price to pay that she could not afford.

WEST AFRICA: Cotton Symbolises Global Trade System’s 'Iniquity'

The international cotton trade has been a sad tale for West African countries. The region produces five percent of the world’s cotton and 15 percent of the global cotton fibre trade. Yet West African cotton farmers are among the poorest in the world.

DEVELOPMENT: Donors And The Poor Agree Aid Agenda

Delegates from both developing and developed countries have adopted the Accra Agenda For Action (AAA) as a guide to improve the way aid is given and spent.

Hamida Harrison -- donors need to stop tying aid to their national interests. Credit:  Miriam Mannak/IPS

WORLD-DEVELOPMENT: ‘‘It’s the Same Talking and Talking’’

About a 1,000 delegates are expected to take up their seats tomorrow at a high level forum on the effectiveness of aid that opens in Ghana’s capital, Accra. But their arrival has been met with mixed reactions.

TRADE-AFRICA: The Struggle Continues Over EPAs

The economic partnership agreements (EPAs) are being given a bad name for nothing, according to Ghanaian parliamentarian JB Danquah.

Accra's bustling central business district Credit:  Francis Kokutse/IPS

GHANA: ‘‘You Have to Speak Up When Competition Destroys You’’

Business has been slow for many Ghanaian traders. They blame the situation on not only the influx of cheap Chinese products but also insufficient legal protection and corruption.

Cocoa pods. Credit:  Francis Kokutse/IPS

GHANA: Relations With China – Into The Claws of Another Predator?

More and more, China seems to be taking up any commodity that can be had from Ghana. From copper waste and scrap, timber and natural rubber to aluminium waste and scrap and vegetable products are being exported to the upcoming Asian superpower.

An infected palm dies within 3 to 6 months and coastal dwellers lose a valuable source of income. Credit: M Dollet/CIRAD

DEVELOPMENT-GHANA: Lethal Yellow Disease Has Scientists Stumped

Older Ghanaians remember when the country's coast was lined with coconut trees. Fishermen would mend their nets in the shade the trees provided, as well as drink the water and eat the fruit. Thousands of women made a living extracting oil from copra - the dried meat of the coconut. But today, the beaches have been stripped bare by Lethal Yellow Disease (LYD).

DEATH PENALTY-GHANA: Public Lets Execution Call Pass

A senior Ghanaian justice department official has expressed surprise that the government has failed to ban capital punishment, implicitly censuring lawmakers for their recent endorsement of two new pro-death penalty judges to the Supreme Court.

DEVELOPMENT-GHANA: No Place to Lay Their Heads

Agbogbloshie Market is a vibrant market in the heart of Accra, Ghana's capital, where one can buy almost anything. But the market is also the stage for a sad tale of many who gain nothing from the commercial bustle: hundreds of young girls from the northern part of the country who work as porters in Accra's markets.

TRADE: China and India Should Join Effort to Stop Illegal Logging

‘‘Greed should not lead us to destroy our forests,’’ according to Abraham Ansah, an executive member of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Bunso Conservationists.

TRADE-GHANA: Non-Traditional Exports Are Booming

Impressive growth in exports from Ghana to the rest of the world has been witnessed over the past few years as more and more Ghanaians explore production in non-traditional sectors.

TRADE: UNCTAD Hears Gender Inequality Becoming Worse – and Better

The only way that the poor, particularly women, will benefit from all the efforts that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has put into improving global trade is to ensure that power inequalities are redressed.

DEVELOPMENT: Views Clash at UNCTAD Over What’s Best for Africa

‘‘Africa is not a basket case. The continent is just suffering from the effects of events that it has no hand in and cannot control.’’

TRADE: UNCTAD Meeting to Address Growth in Emerging Powers

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) meeting currently underway in Accra, Ghana, takes place amid rising global fears that global financial turmoil and economic slowdown in the developed countries would affect economic growth in the developing world.

WEST AFRICA: Check Point &#39&#39Friendships&#39&#39 Hobble Regional Trade

''Give It To God''. These are the words inscribed on the front of the huge truck that goods transporter David Agbalanyo drives between the Ghanaian capital Accra and its northern neighbour, Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.

GHANA: Pollution Forcing Farmers Into Illegal Mining?

Environmental groups have for several years accused mining companies in Ghana of destroying the environment. In a strange twist of events, it now seems that farmers have turned to illegal mining as a result of the devastation of the pollution caused by mining activities.

GHANA: Rapid ‘Development’ Leaves Poor Without Toilets

There are many things that confirm the rich-poor divide in the Ghanaian capital.

TRADE-GHANA: Cocoa Industry’s Future Looking Sweet

After almost a decade of poor cocoa production during the 1980s, the Ghanaian government is upbeat about the subsequent growth in output of the product which is the country’s main export, providing more than 60 percent of foreign earnings.

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