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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taxation, Global Economic Crisis and the poor

By Lord Aikins Adusei (taken from Eurodad partner TJN Africa’s Quarterly Newsletter Africa Tax Spotlight), 
The article below looks at the current global economic and financial crisis, its impact on firms, governments and the poor. It argues the crisis has generated new kinds of tax policies in both developed and developing countries that in the long run will lower inequality between the rich and the poor. The article concludes that although the poor appear to have been badly hit by the crisis they will end up being the final beneficiary if the taxes and other policies being implemented begin to bear fruit.
Taxes play an important role in the economy of many nations. In many countries taxes paid include but are not limited to Personal Income Tax, Corporate Income
Tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), Fuel Levy and Windfall taxes. These taxes help build and maintain public goods and infrastructures such as roads and railway networks, schools and universities; pay salaries of teachers, nurses, doctors, police, and soldiers; maintain law, order, peace and security of the country; and improve economic and social wellbeing of citizens; and pay debts owed to creditors. In short, taxes are essential for the running of every country. Over the last three or four years, the world has gone through and is still going through tumultuous and painful financial and economic crisis. The crisis, which began in the United States and quickly spread to Europe and other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies, was as a result of a combination of factors including under regulation and over supply of financial products; too much public and private sector debt; near-zero interest rates that
fueled cheap credit; and asset prices that boomed and then busted. The crisis has had devastating impact on ability of firms to secure credits as banks are unwilling to lend. In fact, a number of banks have failed and with it the assets of companies and individuals who did business or saved with them. Additionally, demand for goods and services produced by firms has gone down forcing companies to close down completely or lay off workers to cut down cost. The result is that many small and major firms have seen their profits slashed and so are their taxes to government. Governments’ bailouts and efforts by Central Banks around the world to stimulate the global economy by injecting additional
liquidity have not yielded the desired results. Governments’ efforts to raise revenue through taxation have also suffered severe setbacks. As exports and imports in advanced economies slow down and businesses collapse or underperform, governments are losing corporate income tax, personal income tax and other taxes that could help them maneuver through the storm. In a recent op-Ed titled “Globalization of Protest” Columbia University Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz put the impact of the crisis this way: “Around the world, we have underutilised resources – people who want to work, machines that lie idle, buildings that are empty – and huge unmet needs” (Stiglitz, 2011). Stiglitz was referring to the cost of the crisis on the poor. Governments’ inability to raise revenue to implement social and economic programmes has been borne largely by the poor, low wage and middle class workers. In both private and government institutions there is freeze on wage increase.
That not withstanding, the crisis has elicited positive responses from people around the Globe. In India, demonstration against corruption has forced governments to act to prevent corrupt politicians and their business associates from taking bribes and evading tax. The crisis has seen the United StatesFranceand Spain acting in a coordinated fashion to stop corrupt African leaders from looting their coffers and depositing their loot in Europe and America. One illustration of such actions was the fact that Teodoro Obiang Nguema, son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, had his cars confiscated by French police. If auctioned the proceeds of the $5million worth of cars could help provide schools, hospitals and improve sanitation for the people in that country.
In several African countries, the soaring prices and profits for the gold, copper, oil and gasoline industry in the past years have seen governments receiving a boost in the their balance sheet. Zambia for instance has seen revenue from copper increase tremendously. African governments that have not benefited from the windfall profits from oil and minerals are proposing or have proposed a windfall tax that will bring additional revenue to the state.
In 2007, a report prepared for South Africa Treasury, Dr. Zavareh Rustomjee and his team defined windfall profits as “excess profits, of which conceptually there are two possible types: those of a temporary or cyclical nature (called “quasi rent” or “economic profits”), or more structural or permanent (called “economic rent”)” (Rustomjee et al, 2007). Thus taxes on these excess profits constitute windfall tax. According to James Muyanwa (2011) windfall tax is a tax levied by governments on certain industries when economic conditions allow those industries to experience above average profits. Companies who benefit from massive profits due to a favourable economic condition are targeted. In October of 2011, the Reuters news agency cited Ghana’s Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor as saying. Ghana is in talks with gold miners about extra taxes, including the possibility of a windfall tax. In May of 2011, media houses inNamibia quoted Mines and EnergyMinister Isak Katali as saying that the government was looking to introduce a minerals windfall tax to enable the state to benefit more from the country’s vast mineral resources. The Energy Minister said: “It is my view that as the custodian of the mineral resources, the state should also benefit in good times beyond normal taxes and royalties” (Dontoh, 2011). AlgeriaSouth Africa,ChadGabon and Angola have already indicated that they would want to implement some kind of windfall tax that would target massive profits and use it to implement social and economic programmes to benefit the poor. Although the poor have been badly hit by the economic and financial crisis, there is hope that they will turn up to be winners if the policies begin to bear fruit


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

JJ leaves NDC divided & shaken

While President John Evans Atta Mills and the remnants of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) leadership  were singing in the rain and frantically extolling the virtues in party unity and its democratic credentials at Mantse Agbona, just at the entrance of the James Town Mantse's Palace in what used to be called British Accra, at the week-end, the wife of the founder, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, was busily unmasking the Head of State and his political edifice as pretenders who  stole the vote at the Sunyani  congress.
'People who were not delegates were voting as delegates. I know all the delegates; more than one thousand who voted were not delegates,' she told the Akuafo Hall Ladies wing of the Students Representative Council of the University of Ghana, at Legon.
'I let it be, because if I wanted to deal with it, I would take the whole bunch of them to court. I just decided, no, it's not worth it, let them steal it. If that makes them happy, let them steal,' she said, cheered on by the students.
At a time the NDC is clamouring for unity as a sign of strength to tackle the formidable force of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its leader Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the wife of the founder's exposé at Legon puts the party and its leadership on the defensive.
According to the former First Lady, she had been silent over the issue in order to protect the unity of the party founded by her husband, observing that the internal bickering and disunity among party members were some of the fall-outs of the Sunyani congress.
'In my heart of hearts, I felt sorry for the party I belong to, because it was like cracking the party in the middle, and for me it was said because we have built a party for more than 19 years, and then suddenly, 'boom' is not good.'
Reports of a crack in the NDC front after the Sunyani congress have been rife in the body politic for some time, but the statement from the office of Jerry John Rawlings on the eve of the rally in Accra, that he would not be at Mantse Agbona with a warning that the party should not use his name to campaign towards the 2012 elections, was the major song that all may not be well with the party he founded.
As the President and the remnants of the NDC leadership basked in their glory of leading this nation to their own ideas of what constitute prosperity, the Chairman of the party, Dr. Kwabena Adjei, revealed on television on Friday, that his private and confidential letter to the President, calling for a meeting to patch up with the Rawlingses, was leaked from the Castle.
He tried frantically to absolve the President from blame by insisting that at the time the letter got to the Castle, Prof. Mills was out of the country. But the revelation from the party chair that his letter was leaked, rather feeds into the general notion that the orchestrated attempt to exclude the Rawlingses in matters pertaining to the NDC might be the handiwork of the occupant of the Castle.
Political analysts believe it is a means of carving a niche for himself, after being brought in by the founder, who has remained his bedrock and source of legitimacy all along.
At the rally at the weekend, President Mills mocked those he claimed were disappointed in his leadership.  'Let us be positive and not listen to the cries of those who are disappointed, because they will remain disappointed,' he mocked.
Political commentators are reading different meanings into this particular statement. Some political analysts believe the President was referring to the opposition, who are bitterly contesting his claim that the achievements of the party in government were unprecedented.
Others believe the President was further widening the gap between his Presidency and the Rawlingses, who have criticised his style of leadership since occupying Government House three years and a quarter ago.
This school of thought holds that by that statement, President Mills was sending a powerful message across to Boom Junction that he was thriving better without being talked down upon, and that the Rawlingses could do nothing to influence his leadership of government and the party.
If that is the intention of the President, then he would have already offended many in the party who look upon the former President as the man whose sacrifices brought the party into being in the first place, and who nurtured the NDC with his charismatic leadership.
Across the country, billboards and posters are emerging with the effigy of President Mills and former President Rawlings poised to propel the NDC to victory in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
If the founder is chalked off the scene, many are those in the NDC who would know where to pinpoint if the elections fail to go the way of the party in power
Ghanaian Chronicle

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces (Part 1)

This is Part One of two articles. It seeks to achieve two objectives: first it looks at what Special Forces are; and second to look at the role Special Forces play and some of their accomplishments. Part Two of the article addresses the question as to whether or not Ghana needs Special Forces.
The participation of Ghana's Special Forces in the country's 55th Independence anniversary has ignited debate as first whether it is necessary for Special Forces to be created and second whether it was necessary for the force to be showcased the way it was. It is the belief of this author that per the traditional and non-traditional threats posed to the country and the West Africa sub region it is indeed prudent for such a force to be created. As to whether it was necessary for the force to be showcased the belief is that it depends on the function and role the special force is supposed to play.
What are Special Forces?

The development of Special Forces has a long history. Great Empires of history were built with armies that had Special Forces established in them. In the old Testament of the Holy Bible we are told in 1 Chronicle 11:10-15 and 1 Samuel 25:13; 27:2 that within King David's regular soldiers of 400 to 600 men there were 30 elite men who helped him to establish and consolidate his monarchy. These 30 elite warriors which included Joab, Yashobeam, Eleazar, Shammah and Abishai are known in military vocabulary as David Heroes (or haggibborim in Hebrew). Colonel Yasotay, an officer in the army of Genghis Khan, the great Mongolian Emperor, is reported to have told General Khan that “when the hour of crisis comes, remember that 40 selected men can shake the world”. Colonel Yasotay was referring to how during missions of national strategic importance or during military campaign, a small but specially trained elite force could change the dynamics and outcome of a complex and difficult situation far beyond any physical measure of their capability.
Special Forces (SF) are smaller secret military units within a country's armed forces which perform specific assignments in furtherance of the objectives of the state. According to Alastair Finlan, an expert in Strategic Studies at Aberystwyth University UK, Special Forces represent a different kind of soldier who can operate overtly and covertly, not only on the battlefield and behind enemy lines, but also – when necessary – undercover within civil society. Anna Simons and David Tucker both defence experts at the Department of Defense Analysis of the US Naval Postgraduate School, write that Special Forces comprise of specific units with a range of different, but sometimes overlapping capabilities. Sergio Miller, a BBC researcher, adds that Special Forces are silent warriors who combine minimum manpower demands with maximum possibilities of surprise to achieve the impossibilities. They are strategic assets to their militaries helping regular and irregular forces to achieve overwhelming advantage over the enemy.
Many modern armed forces have Special Forces that carry out special and daring missions on behalf of the nation. However, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in U.S. and the successes of Special Forces during the Afghan and Iraq wars, there have been renewed interest and substantial growth in the number of Special Forces worldwide. It is estimated that there are now more than 70 countries worldwide with their own Special Forces. Since 1948 the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has relied on three well known Special Forces including Sayeret, Shayetet 13, and Shaldag.
In the British Armed Forces, Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) are very popular units which carry covert and special operations around the world on behalf of the British government. In the United States Special Forces units fall under the command of U.S. Special Operational Command (USSOCOM) and include US Navy SEALs; US Army Special Forces units (popularly called the Green Berets), US Army Rangers, Special Mission Units, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Civil Affairs (CA), Psychological Operation forces (PSYOP); US Air Force special tactics teams and fixed wing and rotary wing air assets.
In the U.S. for example Special Forces have transitioned from a marginalised force structure to a prominent and vital part of the strategy of the U.S. military. Jennifer D. Kibbe, Olin Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institute, notes that Special Forces have become an increasingly important weapon not only in the U.S. military but also in the broader U.S. national security arsenal.
Matthew Johnson of Missouri State University, points out that the growing importance of Special Forces has made them the force of choice to confront a broad spectrum of irregular threats that dominate the current security environment. According to Steven Lambakis, an analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy in Fairfax, U.S.A., Special Forces have become the force of choice worldwide because they have the ability to perform at different levels of conflict, independently and in conjunction with larger operations. Sergio Miller points out that Special Forces “succeed because they do the undoable. . . Special forces, quite simply, are an army's joker hand”.
Why are Special Forces established?
Special Forces are established for specific reasons. Alastair Finlan quoted above, has observed that the imbalance between the British and German Air Forces during World War II forced Britain to establish the Special Air Service (SAS) which went ahead to use unconventional methods and techniques to alter the strategic situation in favour of the British forces. He adds that the SAS was formed “because it appeared to offer a cost- effective means of redressing the balance using men armed with high explosives dropped off near their targets by lorry or jeep”.
Special Forces are also established to respond to unexpected situations such as unexpected attacks by enemy forces, kidnapping and hostage taking by terrorists, pirates and militant groups. Anna Simons and David Tucker quoted above observe that the US Army Rangers for example specialises in seizing airfields while Special Mission Units train specifically for hostage rescue and anti terrorism missions.
Stanislaw Kulczynski, a Lieutenant Colonel at the Polish National Defense Academy, notes that the functions and roles play by Special Forces around the world include but not limited to the following: 1 Conducting intelligence and reconnaissance missions including obtaining the enemy's latest equipment, armaments, military plans, and taking prisoners, and conducting surveillance, reconnaissance, patrol and other similar operations. 2 Engaging in missions to assist the combat operations of conventional forces; 3 Developing and conducting guerrilla warfare (training of a guerrilla force; organization, command, control and supervision of a guerrilla force); 4 Developing and conducting counter guerrilla operations; 5 Conducting diversion and sabotage including disruption of the enemy's chain of command and of their supply lines; destruction of communication systems and impeding transport of enemy troops and materiel; 6 Conducting psychological operations including misinformation; creating an atmosphere of defeat, spreading chaos, panic and terror; 7 Conducting rescue operations including organizing escapes from captivity, rescuing hostages and prisoners of war; 8 Conducting anti-terrorist actions; 9 Training allied units.
From the various functions and roles performed by Special Forces it is relatively fair to say that Special Forces engage in two distinctively different but complementary kinds of combat mission: those involving direct action, and those in support of unconventional warfare including sabotage, penetrating into the enemy territories to gather intelligence and working behind the enemy lines and securing strategic infrastructures on behalf of the country during hostilities.
Some of the operations that Special Forces are known to have been involved in include anti-terrorist operations, rescue operations, intelligence and reconnaissance operations, diversion and sabotage, counter guerrilla operations, training allied units, interdictions operations and psychological operations.
Exploits of Special Forces

The following accounts give the achievements of Special Forces and explain why they are valued around the world. People who have been following the news in Nigeria from Thursday (08/03/2012) would notice that the UK Special Boat Service (SBS) was involved in the failed bid to free two men (Chris McManus 28 and Franco Lamolinara) who had been taken hostage by members of the Boko Haram in Nigeria.
In May 2011 the US Navy SEALs successfully killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and removed the threat posed by the Al Qaeda leader. In January 2012 members of the Navy SEALs, with support from regular armed forces, freed two hostages (Jessica Buchanan, 32, an American and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, a Dane) in Somalia after killing about nine of the hostage takers.
During World War II German Special Forces were credited for the surprise taking of the impregnable Belgian fortress at Eben Emael.
In Operation Thunderball which took place on July 4, 1976, a 7 member team drawn from the Israeli Special Forces flew 2500 miles from Israel to Uganda and successfully rescued 105 hostages, killing 7 terrorists and 120 Ugandan soldiers in what has become known as the Entebbe raid.
Timothy Garden author of “Iraq: The Military Campaign” notes that during the Iraq war “Special Forces were deployed to secure key targets, provide intelligence and reconnaissance to optimize air strikes, and for traditional disruption tasks”. He adds that Western Iraq was secured mainly by Special Forces.
In the same Iraq war, Prof. Garden notes that the Australian military had 500 Special Forces operating in western and north-western Iraq. Their work helped to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction which Saddam was launching towards Israel. They also helped to secure Al Isad, the second largest airfield in Iraq. The British Special Air Service (SAS) also helped to secure Basra and the oil fields in the south of Iraq.

In Afghanistan Special Forces played strategic role not only in toppling the Taliban but also in disorganizing the Al Qaeda terrorist network which saw its leaders fleeing to Pakistan for cover.
Alastair Finlan quoted above notes that the UK SAS played a key role in the Falklands war between Argentina and Britain in 1982. He adds that within fifteen months of its formation in 1941 the SAS destroyed between 250–400 enemy aircrafts on the ground in addition to other targets of opportunity.
The Special Forces demonstrated the viability of conducting operations behind enemy lines through parachute deployments which by 1944 included the means to drop all-important vehicles such as jeeps to preserve the vital mobility element that had proved so successful in North Africa and Italy. One SAS officer is reported to have said that “It was not our numbers but our ideas which made a big difference”.
Sayeret, Shayetet 13, and Shaldag of Israel played key role in helping Israel win the three wars she fought against her Arab neighbours including the independence war in 1948, the Six Day war in1967 and the Yom Kupur War in1973.
By whatever margin Special Forces have indeed become the weapon of choice, an indispensable arsenal not only to wrought havoc within the camp of the enemy but also to remove any threat such enemies might pose. Ohad Leslau of Israel's Haifa University argues that Special Forces have the potential to play a distinct role, but can also complement the primary military effort. Leslau adds that Special Forces can be a decisive force, and “should therefore be considered a central element in strategic planning”.
Written by Lord Aikins Adusei
Finlan, Alastair  (2009) 'The (Arrested) Development of UK Special Forces and the Global War on Terror' Review of International Studies vol 35 pp.971–982
Simons, Anna  and Tucker,  David (2010) “United States special operations forces and the war on terrorism” Small Wars & Insurgencies, 14:1, pp.77-91
 Kibbe, Jennifer D.(2007) “Covert Action and the Pentagon,” Intelligence and National Security, 22/1 pp. 57-74
Garden, Timothy (2003) “Iraq: The Military Campaign” International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944- ), Vol. 79, No. 4 pp. 701-718

The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces (Part 2)

The Emerging Security Threats and Ghana Special Forces (Part 2)
Does Ghana Need Special Forces?

West Africa where Ghana is situated occupies a strategically important position as a major energy supplier to the global energy market. Unfortunately the region is fast gaining notoriety and as a hub of militancy, terrorism, piracy, arm smuggling and drug trafficking. The growing threat from these sources demands a clear cut response to deal with them so as to redeem the region from its impacts. Ghana as ECOWAS state is not immune from such threats.

There is enough evidence to suggest that drug cartels in Latin America have taken advantage of the poorly patrolled shorelines of West Africa using large mother ships to carry tonnes of cocaine and then station them on high seas. Afterwards they would use smaller boats to break them up for distribution to West African countries for onward shipment to Europe and America. Part of the evidence indicates that the cartels are moving major components of their operations to Ghana and other West African countries. This increasingly use of Ghana and West Africa by South American drug cartels poses serious existential threat to the security, peace and stability of the country and also to the entire sub region. Observers of the West African criminal networks have noted that the drug cartels are becoming bolder and sophisticated in their operations emboldened by large the profits they are making from the drug trade part of which has been used to acquire sophisticated weapons to protect their illegal activities. 

In 2007 the UN published a report titled “Cocaine trafficking in West Africa: The threat to stability and development”. The report reiterated the need for serious human and material resources to be mobilised to confront the cartels and their operations and free Ghana and West Africa from the menace of the drug problem.

Writing in the African Security journal in 2009 on the threat narco-trafficking poses to Ghana and the West African subregion, Kwesi Aning, security expert at Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Centre in Ghana noted that:

“This [narco-trafficking] is the new frontier of war and an attack on West Africa’s fragile states. A threat that is more insidious and dangerous than the conflicts that engulfed West Africa in the 1990s and early twenty-first century. This is because the increasing flow of drugs through West African States is beginning to undermine the state, through weakening its institutions, its local communities, and its social fabric. Narco-incomes are replacing the legitimate incomes, and in some instances are providing services previously the responsibility of the states. Incomes from narcotics are basically distorting and undermining economies. The drug trade now forms a major part of transnational criminal activities taking place in West Africa. A whole sub-region now serves as a major transit point for illicit drugs coming mainly from South and Central America and Southeast and Southwest Asia to final destinations in South Africa, Europe, and North America. Critical transit points in Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, and Niger are witnessing an onslaught of drugs passing through their airports, harbors, and porous borders”. 

Dr. Aning emphasised that the “narcotics poses a serious and veritable threat to West African states and threatens to undo all of the hesitant but positive steps that have occurred in the past decade”. 

Examples worldwide including Mexico and Columbia indicate that regular armies are not capable of defeating the often sophisticated, well-funded and heavily armed drug cartels. The critical question is whether Ghana’s regular armed forces can defeat the cartels who are using Ghana as a base for their operations. The evidence is that it is unlikely. The sophisticated manner in which the cartels are operating demands that a specialised unit within the Ghana Navy, Army and Air Force be established and equipped with the capabilities and assets to confront them.

Terrorism is a global problem and many armed forces are reforming themselves to respond to its challenge. West Africa and the Sahel region are also increasingly becoming a hot bed for terrorism. There are reports that AQIM or Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has plans to export terrorism to Sub Sahara Africa. Nigeria has become the latest casualty. 

Already the governments of Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria have met to address the threat posed by terrorists. In January 2012 a similar meeting was held in Nouakchott by Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Nigeria. In Nigeria Boko Haram caught the Nigeria security forces unaware and it is fair to say that the armed forces and other security services struggled to mount a proper response to the Boko Haram challenge. The Federal government headed by Goodluck Jonathan came under serious criticism both home and abroad for not being able to deal with the Boko Haram threat. Part of the reason is that Nigeria armed forces appear not to have the specialised elite forces needed to deal with terrorism. 

Documents we have seen indicate that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have big plans for the entire Sub Sahara Africa region including Ghana. Given the fact that no country is immune from terrorism a wait and see approach to the terror threat may not help Ghana in the long run. It will therefore be in order if Ghana gets itself prepared now to establish Special Forces within the Ghana Armed Forces for the purpose of confronting the global problem of terrorism.

Militancy in West Africa especially in oil producing countries is a major problem. Almost all the countries in Africa where oil is being produced have seen some kind of instabilities and warfare; from Angola, to Congo, to Ivory Coast to Libya, to Nigeria and Sudan the examples are many. Ghana being an emerging oil producing country, the threats of few disgruntled individuals taking up arms and causing upset in the country cannot be ruled out in the long term. Already there is clear indication that weapon proliferation in Ghana (which could make instability in the oil producing part of Ghana possible) is growing and will give the country enormous challenge if it is not dealt with.

Writing in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies Kwesi Aning of the Kofi Annan Centre noted in 2008 that:

“While Ghana is generally perceived as a stable state, there are enough small arms in circulation to be worrying. In addition, there is increasing anxiety that the instability that has engulfed the West African region can impact negatively on Ghana if concerted endeavours are not undertaken to understand and map its proliferation of small arms. Critical indicators of the proliferation of small arms in Ghana are the daily reports of firearms-related criminal activities in all parts of the country, and the widespread availability and misuse of small arms, particularly pump action guns, shotguns, pistols and AK47s.” 

Now take these weapons and send it to Takoradi, give it to few disgruntled people in the region and we will have major problems similar to the petrodollar-insurgency in Nigeria. In short the availability of these weapons coupled with other factors has the potential to affect the security of oil and gas production, transportation and supply effort of the country. 

Research conducted in Takoradi and its environs indicate that the ingredients that have fueled the petro-insurgency in the Niger Delta also exist in Western Region. In Nigeria the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other ethnic militias has been behind many of the attacks on oil and gas pipelines and other installations in the country. These attacks have sometimes affected gas supply from Nigeria to Ghana. The problem is that Nigeria’s regular forces have not been able to defeat the militants, a problem that forced the government to finally declare amnesty for the militants which reduced attacks on oil and gas facilities. But signs have appeared that the militants have resumed their activities.

As Ghana’s oil production surges the threat of attacks on oil and gas installations must be taken serious. The threats by the youth in Jomoro that they will cause mayhem if the gas plant is not established in their district should not be taken lightly. 

Hostage taking of oil and gas workers is a major appetite for criminal syndicates seeking to profit illegally from the oil and gas sectors. In many parts of the world it has been the duty of Special Forces to eliminate the threats posed by hostage takers and kidnappers. Unlike Nigeria, Ghana today has not gotten to the situation where oil and gas workers are kidnapped on the daily bases, but to prepare for that day will not be a wrong thing to do.

From what is known in Nigeria about the failures to deal decisively with the militants the best team that can adequately response to threats against oil and gas infrastructures may be a specially trained elite force. 

Another potential threat to Ghana’s oil and gas production ambitions comes from Ivory Coast which has declared its intention to contest oil and gas resources at the Ghana-Ivorian border. While the Ivorian claims can be settled peacefully through negotiation, arbitration or cooperation, confrontation cannot be ruled out when dialogue fails. The role of Special Forces in any modern war is of so strategic value that it cannot be reduced to party politics. In other words oil and gas production and supply come with it security challenges that cannot be ignored by any serious energy producing country.

Another threat Ghana must prepare to deal with is the activities of pirates. The number of pirates’ activities off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea including Ghana and West Africa is growing. Major oil tankers and cargo ships carrying oil and raw materials from the Gulf of Guinea to U.S. and Europe have come under serious attacks from pirates. According to reports the pirates usually come with fast speed boats with sophisticated weapons, hijack ships, demand money and cart away its goods. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Live Piracy map and Live Piracy Report indicate that Gulf of Guinea in West Africa is one of the key zones where ships are increasingly under threat of being hijacked by pirates. The activities of pirates are increasingly threatening shipping routes, and trade in West Africa including Ghana. The pirates’ activities not only threaten the lives of crew but also put business and trade (the lifeblood of the resource export economies in West Africa including Ghana) under threat.

On February 9th, 2012 at 04am local time four robbers armed with long knives boarded an offshore tug berthing at the Takoradi Port, in Ghana stole goods from the ship’s stores. The robbers threatened the watchmen who were on duty with long knives and escaped in a canoe with their stolen goods. Although the crew was safe and no casualties were reported the attack itself speaks volume of the threat that oil and cargo ships operating in Ghana ports and coastal waters face. What worries many experts and industry leaders is that the pirates are attacking ships further and further away from the coast leaving ships, their cargo and their crews very much vulnerable. 

There are reports that shipping insurers in London are beginning to increase premium for ships operating in West African coastal waters including Ghana. Other reports also speak of oil and shipping companies asking NATO and Western governments to provide them with security to eliminate the pirates’ threat in West Africa and the Horn of Africa. If the pirates’ activities is allowed unchecked it will endanger business and trade activities not only in Ghana but also in the entire subregion.

What is important so far as Ghana is concerned is its national security, economic security, political stability, international trade, and protection of human life. The growing threat from drug cartels, arms traffickers pirates, militants, and terrorists to the security of Ghana and its neighbours shows that it will be difficult for Ghana to confront these threats without adequately developing its own special forces to deal decisively with them.

The key problem in Ghana is for the ruling government not to politicise the establishment of such elite forces and issuing threats to the effect that such forces will be used to deal with the opposition parties. For as soon as such threats are issued it degrades the importance of such a strategic national asset and weakens its standing in the eyes of the public. 

Therefore it is crucial that the generals and admirals in the Ghana Armed Forces adhere to the concept of military honour which stipulates that the professional soldier must be above politics meaning that, in domestic politics, generals and admirals should do well not to attach themselves to political parties or overtly display partisanship. Therefore as noted by Sam C. Sarkesian the doctrine of an impartial, nonpartisan, objective career service, loyally serving whatever administration or party that is in power must be religiously respected by the Armed Forces to avert a situation where one political party will be inclined to dissolve the Special Forces when they come to power.

Written by Lord Aikins Adusei


Kwesi (2008) “From ‘voluntary’ to a ‘binding’ process: towards the securitisation of small arms” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 26:2, pp.169-181

Kwesi (2009) “Perspectives on President Barack Obama's Africa Foreign Policy” African Security, 2:1, pp. 66-67