Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ghana Lawmakers Propose Salary Increases as Anti-Corruption Effort - [extracted from]

Ghana Lawmakers Propose Salary Increases as Anti-Corruption Effort

Ghanaian lawmakers say they have found a novel way to curb corruption, by doubling their own pay. The proposal has provoked a debate in this West African country still searching for ways to manage its newfound oil wealth.

The 2,000 Ghana cedis that the country's parliamentarians take home each month could buy you roundtrip airfare to London or Cape Town, or about $1,300 at a foreign exchange bureau.

But if you are looking to stay in office in a country where politics is pegged to patronage, the country's lawmakers want you to know that you would have a tough time surviving off that amount, too.

That is why a seeming majority of Ghana's parliament is saying that if they are going to fight the temptation for corruption, they need to double their pay.

The new monthly salary about $4,500 a month is about three times what the average Ghanaian earns in a year.

The executive director of the policy group Imani Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, says that is just too much. "We do not believe that giving them the almost 169 percent pay raise makes sense at all.  They swore an oath that they were going to diligently pursue whatever they are going to pursue in the interest of Ghanaians and for that reason they knew emoluments that were there and so it should not be seen as if they are pursuing a most sacrificial job," he said.

But Charles Hodogbey, an parliament member from the lush riverside district of North Tongu, says outsiders like Cudjoe just do not know the kind of pressure lawmakers are under to share their salary.

"Parliamentary work pro bono? No," he says, "You go to the constituency, you take 2,000 Ghana cedis, before you come back within three days it is gone.  If you are a Ghanaian Parliamentarian, if you do not take time you would come become poorer than the way you came in."

Hodogbey says the country's lawmakers are badly compensated compared to their counterparts in regional neighbors like Nigeria.  Senators there make $198,000 a year in salary and allowances, according to figures reported by Lagos-based news magazine Business Day.

Ghana also boasts a significantly less corrupt government, the 62nd least corrupt government in the world according to Transparency International's 2010 rankings of 178 countries.  Nigeria scored 134th on the list.

If lawmakers want to fortify the idea that public service is a noble gesture, not a staircase to wealth, David Tetteh Assumeng says they should cap, not raise their salaries.

Assumeng is the lone parliamentarian calling for a salary freeze in a chamber prepped to give itself a raise.
He says, if lawmakers want to win the loyalty of their constituency, they should do so through official channels.

"I think that it is very important for us to do well to freeze any increment of our salaries at least for two years for us to raise revenue to develop our communities.  We cannot continue to rely on external funds, we must also take initiative," he said.

In December, Ghana pumped the first of 600 million barrels worth of oil estimated to be sitting below its continental shelf.  The country's revenue service expects to collect $207 million from oil taxes this year alone.

Read the full article here -->

and have your say:
Does increasing the salaries of Government workers reduce their appetite for corruption?
Post your comments below.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Internet is for everyone - Join now!

Dear friends,

As a member of the Internet Society, I am supporting an organization that believes the Internet is for everyone. I strongly recommend that you join the Internet Society as well and help shape the future of the Internet. You can sign up by clicking on this link (or by pasting it in your preferred browser):

Global membership with the Internet Society is free. You can find more information about the organization, its activities and the different types of membership at

Thank you!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

New mosquito type raises concern - [extract from BBC News]

New mosquito type raises concern

Close-up image of a mosquito Anopheles gambiae is responsible for the vast majority of malaria cases in Africa

Related Stories

Scientists have identified a new class of mosquito.
It is a subtype of Anopheles gambiae, the insect species responsible for most of the malaria transmission in Africa.
Researchers tell Science magazine that this new mosquito appears to be very susceptible to the parasite that causes the disease - which raises concern.
The type may have evaded classification until now because it rests away from human dwellings where most scientific collections tend to be made.
Dr Michelle Riehle, from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, and colleagues made their discovery in Burkina Faso, where they gathered mosquitoes from ponds and puddles near villages over a period of four years.
When they examined these insects in the lab, they found many to be genetically distinct from any A. gambiae insects previously recorded.
The team grew generations of the unique subtype in the lab to assess their susceptibility to the malaria parasite and this revealed them to be especially vulnerable, more so than indoor-resting insect types.
But Pasteur team-member Dr Ken Vernick cautioned that these mosquitoes' significance for malaria transmission had yet to be established.
"We are in a zone where we need to do some footwork in the field to identify a means to capture the wild adults of the outdoor-resting sub-group," he told BBC News.
Larvae are collected from natural pools Larvae are collected from pools of water for study
"Then we can test them and measure their level of infection with malaria, and then we can put a number on how much - if any - of the actual malaria transmission this outdoor-resting subgroup is responsible for."
The researchers report in Science magazine that the new subgroup could be quite a recent development in mosquito evolution and urge further investigation to understand better the consequences for malaria control.
They also emphasise the need for more diverse collection strategies. The subtype is likely to have been missed, they say, because of the widespread practice of collecting mosquitoes for study inside houses. In one sense this has made sense - after biting, mosquitoes need to rest up and if they do this inside dwellings, the confined area will make them an easier target for trapping. However, the method is also likely to introduce a bias into the populations under study.
Commenting on the study, Dr Gareth Lycett, a malaria researcher from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in the UK, said it was an interesting advance that might have important implications for tackling malaria.
"To control malaria in an area you need to know what mosquitoes are passing on the disease in that district, and to do that you need sampling methods that record all significant disease vectors," he told BBC News.
"You need to determine what they feed on, when and where, and whether they are infectious. And where non-house-resting mosquitoes are contributing to disease transmission, devise effective control methods that will complement bed-net usage and house spraying. A recent 12m-euro multinational project (AvecNET), funded by the European Union, and led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has the specific aims of doing just this."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 200 million cases of malaria worldwide each year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, most of them in Africa.
Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.

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