General News of Sunday, 9 December 2012

Source: bloomberg

President Has Narrow Lead as Second Day of Voting Finishes

Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, held a narrow lead in provisional results as people finished casting ballots after the process was extended to a second day because of malfunctioning voter-identification machines.

Mahama had 50.2 percent of votes cast from 155 of the country’s 275 constituencies, according to figures on the website of Accra-based, closely held Citi FM. Nana Akufo-Addo, the main opposition candidate, had 48.7 percent, the data show. A runoff will be held if no candidate gets at least 50 percent.

Ghana’s election was peaceful and transparent even with the “logistical challenges that caused undue delays in completing the electoral process,” an observer mission from the Economic Community of West African States said in a statement handed to reporters in Accra, the capital, today.

Equipment to scan fingerprints failed in 18 percent of the country’s voting centers, according to the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, which had 4,500 poll-watchers. Half of the centers were open 15 minutes after the scheduled start yesterday because of delays in providing voting materials, the group said in an e-mailed statement. There were 413 stations open today, or 1.6 percent of the total, according to the Electoral Commission. Polls closed at 5 p.m.

Mahama, 54, of the National Democratic Congress is contesting New Patriotic Party leader Akufo-Addo, 68, for the presidency. Six others are also vying for the position. Mahama came to office in July after the death of John Atta Mills, who defeated Akufo-Addo by less than one percentage point in 2008.

Oil Production The winner will face mounting calls from Ghanaians to spread wealth from oil production that began in 2010. Spending promises made during the campaign may be hindered by a widening budget deficit and slowing economic growth in a nation where 18 percent of the population has formal employment.

Both Mahama and Akufo-Addo pledged to build schools, roads and housing, and use money from oil exports to boost the country’s manufacturing industries and create jobs, according to their manifestos.

After expanding 14.4 percent in 2011, the fastest pace in Africa, Ghana’s economy is projected to grow 8.2 percent this year and 7.8 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund. In the nine months through September, the fiscal gap widened to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product from 1.9 percent a year earlier, according to the Bank of Ghana.

Provisional results showed Mahama’s NDC winning 65 of the 275 Parliament seats, with the NPP taking 62, according to Accra-based broadcaster Joy FM’s website.

Cocoa, Gold Ghana is the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, after Ivory Coast, and Africa’s second-largest gold miner, following South Africa. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (ANG) and Newmont Mining Corp. mine gold in the country while Cargill Inc. and Barry Callebaut AG process the chocolate ingredient.

Tullow Oil Plc (TLW) said oil production at the Jubilee field, the country’s lone source of crude exports, slowed to an average of 63,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the first half of this year, according to the central bank. Production is expected to increase to 90,000 barrels by the end of this year from 78,200 barrels in 2011, according to London-based Tullow.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ekow Dontoh in Accra at