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At 16, First Sky Group gives thanks to the Almighty God for tremendous Growth and Expansion …donates GH¢1m to road safety agenda

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Sixteen years in the life of a company is a story worth telling. It is considered that at sixteen years old, one is now beginning life. A human being at 16 is still considered a child but getting ready for adulthood. Governments, political parties, royal families, multilateral organisations and even businesses at 16 are still seen as young and therefore still growing.

First Sky Group that officially commenced its operations in 2002 as a construction firm, First Sky Construction, today has lived to witness the birth of other subsidiaries that together form the First Sky Group.

In Ghana, the story is always different especially for a business to exist for 16 years and attain uninterrupted growth with a very bright future; such a business is seen as an icon and a trendsetter.

The reason is simple: research, globally, points that 20percent of small businesses fail in their first year, 30percent fail in their second year, 50percent fail after five years in business and 70percent fail in their 10th year in business. In Ghana, the statistics are far worse with more than 70percent of business collapsing within the first two years.

For the First Sky Group, an indigenous conglomerate that started off quietly in construction to venture into commodities, hospitality, finance, bitumen production and still counting to attain 16 years of growth and expansion into different sectors of the economy, the least it can do is appreciate God with all of its might and resources.

With a strong Christian foundation, the First Sky Group, which started humbly with First Sky Construction has over the past dozen and four years added First Sky Commodities, Volta Serene Hotel, Serene Insurance, and First Sky Bitumen Processing with others to follow in the coming years.

At a beautiful and well-coordinated thanksgiving ceremony at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), the company, led by its Executive Chairman, Eric Seddy Kutortse, and his staff of over 2,000 praised and worshiped God for the 16 years of growth and expansion and sought God’s protection and guidance for the decades ahead.

The event which was to show appreciation to God for His protection throughout the years was on the theme “For Thou oh Lord, Our Shield and Glory,” Psalm 3:3.

With song ministrations by Sax Borsah, Harmonious Chorale, Joe Mettle and the evergreen Daughters of Glorious Jesus, the gathering sang songs in praises to God and with men of God in attendance, the word of the Lord was shared with all.

The Assistant General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church Ghana, Reverend Dr Paul Dsane in a sermon titled “The troubles and triumphs of lives” stressed the need for Christians to be thankful to God for His mercies and blessings especially for Ghana.

Rev. Dr. Paul Dsane, Asst Gen. Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church Ghana

He said the safest way for one to be successful in life was to be in the will of God, adding “If God be on your side, nothing would be against you.” Rev. Dsane said God has the destiny of mankind in His hands, adding that “the Lord would make you prosper if you trust in him.”

The ceremony was in the company of the Chief of Staff, Frema Opare, who represented the President Nana Akufo-Addo; Okyehene, Osaagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II; former President Jerry John Rawlings; Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako-Atta; the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Ghana, Rev. Prof Paul Frimpong Manso, and several other dignitaries.

Eric’s generous heart and the zeal to please God

As a long-standing tradition of the company, Mr. Kutortse announced that the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the Ministry of Roads and Highways will receive an amount of GH¢1million this year to significantly help curtail road accidents through education and road safety campaigns.

A year before that, at its 15th anniversary thanksgiving service, First Sky donated GH¢2million including building materials to the construction of the National Cathedral.

Frema Opare, the Chief of Staff, thanked the First Sky Group CEO for his numerous contributions to government especially the donation of GH¢2 million towards the construction of the National Cathedral. 

Ms. Frema Opare, Chief Of Staff at the FlagStaff House

“It has been a pleasure watching him work hard over the years and growing this company into what it has become today. A vibrant entity employing hundreds of young Ghanaians. Eric, I say a big ayeeko (Congratulations) to you and more grease to your shoulders.”

“You have shown that hard work and reliance on God pays. First Sky Group has been a good example of a wholly owned Ghanaian company giving back to society and contributing its widow’s mite to the well-being and growth of our nation,” Ms. Opare, said, on behalf of the President.

As though these donations are not enough, the company, which has over the years spent a total of GH¢10million to support the treatment of patients with kidney failure at the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, plans to finance the establishment of a kidney transplant centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

“The First Sky Group is collaborating with the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to at all cost bring a team of specialists from Birmingham, UK to Ghana to carry out kidney transplants for a number of patients. These visits by the UK team will lead to the medical knowledge and skill transfer to our local surgeons in the short term.”

“In the medium term however, our goal is to finance the establishment of a kidney transplant centre at the hospital to help stem the tides of our countrymen suffering such ailment and thus spending thousands of our foreign exchange earnings to seek such health services outside the country,” Eric disclosed.

In Mr. Kutortse’s view, apart from these projects being in line with the company’s corporate social responsibilities, they are a critical component of First Sky’s objective of bringing relief to humanity, creating jobs and supporting government’s programmes and policies.

Contrary to general perception that private business men and women are only profit driven individuals who seek to enrich themselves, the Executive Chairman noted that his company is founded on sound Christian principles and operates within the laws of the country and therefore undertake projects that other companies will see as detrimental to the bottom-line.

“I say this with reverence to our Almighty God that First Sky Group, since its inception to date, has never been involved in any scandalous or corrupt practices that seek to short-change this nation. That is not to say we have not been exposed to such temptation but for the love of our nation, the fear of the Lord and our salvation has kept us away from such evil practices and we give all glory to God.”

“Four years ago, during such similar occasion I made the same statement that we have a stainless record on corruption; this attracted the attention of one of the anti-corruption agencies in Ghana, and the revenue agency which investigated my company’s activities for five years, and thanks be to God, nothing untoward was found about us. We will continue to uphold sound Christian principles in all our business ventures and operate within the laws of the Republic of Ghana,” he added.

The company, has also, in 2011, built a 50-seater well-equipped Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre for the Awate Schools in the North Dayi District of the Volta Region. Through the generosity of First Sky, many students have been offered full scholarships at various levels of education.

For instance, a full scholarship scheme is being run by the group for some underprivileged students annually at the Kpando Senior High School, the Group Executive Chairman’s alma mater.

Supporting the spread of the gospel

To assist in spreading the message of the gospel, First Sky Group, in 2011, donated a brand new Land Cruiser Prado and a pick-up truck to the Assemblies of God Church, Ghana, to facilitate its rural activities. Also, a 15-sets of musical instruments were delivered to various churches across the country.

The Group, in March, 2016, handed over 60 church buildings with a seating capacity of 450 to 650 to the Assemblies of God Church with 30 chapels each in the Eastern and Volta regions. The motive behind this CSR move was to alleviate the inconveniences of churches that held meetings under trees and in classrooms. A brand new Toyota pick-up was also presented to the Assemblies of God church to facilitate evangelism.

One will ask why the focus on the Assemblies of God church. The Executive Chairman, Eric Seddy Kutortse is a devoted Christian and the Board Chairman of the Evangelism Explosion-Ghana, a worldwide organisation that aims at spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ across nations. He is not only a deacon at the Trinity Assemblies of God Church in Tema but also a lay preacher.

The appreciations

Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong-Manso, Gen. Superintendent of the Assemblies of God- Ghana

Reverend Professor Paul Frimpong-Manso, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Church couldn’t help but extend the felicitations of the General Council and the Executive Presbytery of the church to Mr. Kutortse and the entire First Sky Group for the support.

“Like many great organisations in the world, the First Sky Group had a humble beginning as a small construction outfit under the able leadership of Mr. Eric Seddy Kutortse. Today, it has grown in leaps and bounds to become a group.”

“As a high-flyer corporate entity, the First Sky Group has blazed the trail as one of the few indigenous companies in Ghana with the ability to combine industry, marketplace, and Christianity in a beautiful blend without compromising the tenets of her Christian values and convictions,” he averred.

Reverend Professor Frimpong-Manso, added that the company’s track record of hard work, dedication, attention to detail, timely completion of projects, faithfulness, and sterling performances, has brought great honour not only to the First Sky family and admirers, but also to the Assemblies of God fraternity, of which the Executive Chairman is a very committed member.

Former President Rawlings who was enthused about the company’s reverence to best practices said if all companies in Ghana could emulate First Sky Group’s example, the country would have been out of the woods. He queried the number of CEOs who could openly proclaim they were clean from corruption. “If we do away with corruption as a country, Ghana would be the best on the continent.”

“This man is truly under the protection of God. If we could go about our lives keeping it a little cleaner than we are doing and done so far, Ghana will truly be one of the finest places,” he added.

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin commended Mr. Kutortse for his remarkable achievements over the years and urged him to keep on with the good work in the country and beyond. In a style reminiscent of a preacher man, the Okyehene noted that a man like Eric must be supported to serve as an example to the youth that it can be done and done cleanly.

“Eric said he has given his life to God and that everything he has done he has made God first. To Eric, success is working hard and providing opportunities and hope for more than 2,000 people. You do not hear that many times. He added that he had done that and done it clean and he has not engaged in any corrupt activity. He made that vow here and that is remarkable,” he noted.

The revered chief added that if as a businessman “you have made money through foul means, if you have made without working hard, in the name of God, you are not successful. If your bank account is wrapped up in the blood of the poor, you are not successful. If in going up, you have made others poorer, you are not successful.”

He noted that Denzel Washington, a celebrated Hollywood actor once said: “‘he had never seen a corpse going to its last place followed by the properties acquired.’ A lot more people are named successful and they died in dignity and their properties and toils are never remembered.”

President wants all to rally behind government’s vision

President Nana Akufo-Addo, through the Chief of Staff Frema Opare, appealed to Ghanaians to rally behind the government’s vision of building a nation free from aid. He said the dream of a Ghana Beyond Aid required the support of all Ghanaians and a change in mentality for all Ghanaians to believe that the dream is possible.

I came into office with the aim of improving the living standards of the Ghanaian people. My vision remains to build a Ghana beyond aid that is a Ghana that has dedicated itself to self-reliance, mentally to rid themselves of dependence on aid, charity and handouts.” 

“We can and we should be able to build a Ghana which looks to the use of her own resources and their proper management as a way to empower social and economic growth of our country. With the help of the church and private sector, I’m confident that we can realise this vision,” he added.

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LN | Business

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 SUV, a masterpiece for all!

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Vrroooooooommmm! When we hear this sound, one thing comes to mind. Yes, you got it! It’s an automobile. Automobiles came to global use in the 20th Century and have evolved over time with different brands and models that suit the needs of everyone capable of driving or owning one, no matter where they are on the globe. From affordable to luxury cars, whatever your need is, one brand has been able to consistently serve the insatiable desires of customers with exactly what they need; Toyota.

Toyota right from the first car in 1934 to date has yet to disappoint its customers and fanatics. Currently, Toyota has unveiled a new model of its Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) on to the global market with diverse awe-inspiring features that enthrals its many admirers; the Toyota Recreational Activities Vehicle 4-wheel drive, known universally as the RAV4.

The RAV4 made its debut in 1994/1995 in Japan, Europe and North America. Four generations down the line comes the 5th Generation all-new and improved 2019 RAV4 with 3 different heroic grades; adventure, limited and hybrid.

The new model has moved from a specialty vehicle to a mass production vehicle that appeals to both sexes with a new definition for the 5th Generation; Robust, Accurate Vehicle 4-Wheel Drive. The new RAV4 comes with an eccentric look, form and function combined in tail lights and exterior door handles which have been shaped to contribute to the aerodynamic stability. The design itself is very striking and attractive and will still remain stunning even after 10 years.

Toyota Ghana, a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation, officially launched the all-new RAV4 at the glamorous ambiance of the Oxford Street Mall on 12th April 2019. At the launch, many car enthusiasts and more especially Toyota fanatics were present to have a first feel of the new bold and fearless look it portrays.

Participants at the launch were astonished by the innovation and creativity that went into the manufacturing of the all-new masterpiece that stands tall among its contemporaries on the market. Customers in Ghana are only eligible to the new bold looking Adventure grade.

What makes the all-new Toyota RAV4 spectacular?

Like all Toyota’s new models, the new RAV4 is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). TNGA was designed to improve handling by lowering the centre of gravity for more responsive handling, even on an SUV such as the new RAV4.

There is the standard grille and a bigger, bolder face on the new Adventure model. The new Adventure model also gets roof rails and chunkier wheel arches, as well as all-terrain drive mode settings for the all-wheel drive system, to give the new RAV4 more off-road capability. It is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 127kW of power and 203Nm of torque, paired to an eight-speed CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic which is fitted with a mechanical launch gear for better response.

The 2019 RAV4 is “totally meant to cause a stare because of its bold look and daring presence,” the Toyota Ghana Team revealed in an interview.

The Car with the “Ghanaian Roads in Mind”

At the launch of the 2019 RAV4, it was mentioned that the making of the new RAV4 had “the Ghanaian roads in mind.” Typically, the ideal description of Ghanaian roads is that it has a lot of potholes and or rough roads which affect automobiles through wear and tear of some parts, damage to shock absorbers, and also wearing of the tyres.

In this regard, the 2019 RAV4 model during its initial stage of manufacturing had three Ghanaian Engineers join their counterparts from other parts of the world to deliberate on how to produce a car that will withstand such negative impacts whiles giving customers enjoyable and comfortable ride. Thus, considering all the above factors, the new Adventure grade is the perfect fit for the Ghanaian market.

The 2019 RAV4 Adventure “gives the full benefit of a vehicle without stress. The suspension system gives that comfort one needs without spending much on servicing and fuel, and also, the car responds to the weather terrain in Ghana, and the engine suits the Ghanaian environment.”

The team further explained that there is a Severe Usage Package provided by Toyota which factors in any harsh condition. This system is to enable the user suppress most of the elements such as environmental, the road and or even the general driving attitude in Ghana.

The Uniqueness of the 2019 RAV4 SUV

  • Styling

With the contrasting accents and stitching and the slashed texture of the control-knob grips, the generous rear-seat room and increased cabin storage, just makes the new interior layout the biggest praise for the RAV4 2019 model. It has Day/Night rear-view mirror, Auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-trimmed sports seats, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat, tilt/ telescopic urethane 3 spoke steering wheel, power windows with driver auto up/down with jam protection, centre armrest with console storage box, 60/40 split, and reclining, fold-flat second-row seat with centre armrest.

In addition to this, just for comfort and convenience, the new RAV4 fortunately has all the controls fall where one would expect them. Most of the audio controls are accessible on the steering wheel and gives one a visual indication in the 7-inch TFT multi-information display.The dash console is black and gives the option of either analogue or digital reading which can be varied to any colour the user pleases. “It’s a computer on the dashboard giving one data and interpreting the data to lay persons to guide one in driving” the team revealed.

“It also has a lift activated gate for the rear door for easy access especially when the user’s hand is filled with luggage or groceries.”

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 also has five USB ports throughout the cabin, as well as a 12V/120W power outlet up front. The Adventure offers a 100W AC power outlet in the rear cargo area, which is a nice touch on a road trip.

On the external, the RAV4 has eye-catching looks with more style and personality; just looking at the grille, roof rails and chunkier wheel arches with 18-inch alloy wheel tyres. The whole ensemble of the LED Projector-beam headlights, front bumper integrated fog lights, washer-linked intermittent windshield wiper, front and rear silver-painted bumper garnish and wireless door lock makes this all-new 2019 RAV4 a diamond to grasp.

  • Technology

An extraordinary amount of technology is what the 2019 Toyota RAV4 offers on the spot. Especially when it comes to safety; Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) 2.0 system is a standard on all the three grades. These features are a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, lane tracing assist and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, multi-terrain select, electronic parking brake, cruise control and automatic headlamp levelling. It also has a smart key system on all doors with push button start, dual zone automatic climate control with air filter, auto headlamp levelling and illuminated entry system. Not forgetting the voice control system, which only takes a few minutes to follow the prompted procedure to teach it one’s voice.

  • Performance

The 2019 RAV4 Adventure, is powered by naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Toyota calls this new power plant its ‘Dynamic Force’ engine, and the numbers look encouraging on paper. The engine puts out 203 horsepower (up from the old model’s 176) and 184 lb-ft. of torque (up from 172). Power is routed in to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy figures are respectable, with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 25 City / 33 Highway / 28 combined mpg.

It has a Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD (All Wheel Drive) mechanism to control rear torque independently on Left and right wheels in response to driving conditions. The system demonstrates its influence by cornering.

It offers a choice of three drive modes mud and sand / normal / rock and dirt via the dial-type switch. This system lets you obtain optimum traction on varying surfaces, helping drivers enjoy secure, sure-footed control.

The 2019 RAV4 Adventure delivers a direct shift feel in a range of driving scenarios. The transmission yields smooth and linear gear changes, as well as supreme quietness and top-class fuel economy performance.

The 2.0-Litre engine achieves a thermal efficiency of 40% and balances fuel efficiency with throttle response.

  • Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption plays a vital role in the purchase of an automobile in Ghana, as the average Ghanaian is watchful of the fuel prices at the pump. That is why it’s important to note that the 2019 RAV4 Adventure has fuel economy and efficiency in mind.

The fuel tank capacity of this car is 55-litres and has an EPA rating of 25 City / 33 Highway / 28 Combined.

Because of the available choice of three drive modes mud and sand / normal / rock and dirt and also the ability to choose between ECO and Sport, top-class fuel economy performance is achieved. In addition to this, there is an indicator that gives regulated performance as you accelerate. This functionally gives a visible indication of ECO drive performance.

  • Safety and Security

There are different types of road users in Ghana. We have the ‘trotro’ and taxi drivers, motorbike riders and pedestrians. Unfortunately, most of the above-mentioned road users do not conform to the basic functions of road signage. The safety and security features installed on the latest RAV4 is to foresee such wrongful acts by these types of road users. These features protect the user both internally and externally.

Seat belts, SRS airbags, front passenger occupant classification system, exhaust gas precautions, child restraint systems, emergency assistance safety connect, electronic brake system, theft deterrent system, engine immobilizer system and alarm; necessary in every vehicle is definitely present in the 2019 RAV4 Adventure. It also has very solid impact beams at the front and rear end.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 system is installed on the 2019 RAV4 with eight sensors all around the car. The features are a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, automatic high beams, Lane Tracing Assist and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Automatic Headlamp Levelling and a Smart Key System on all doors.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 includes:

  • Pre-Collision System (updated) with enhanced deceleration capabilities and the ability to help detect a collision with a pedestrian in front of the vehicle during the day and at night, and bicyclist in front of the vehicle during the day.
  • Lane Departure Alert (updated) enhanced with “road edge detection” to increase the vehicle’s ability to help drivers stay in their lane.
  • Lane Tracing Assist (new), which provides steering support to help the driver keep the vehicle centred in its lane when Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is in operation. Also, adaptive cruise control maintains a constant vehicle speed while automatically keeping a fixed distance to the preceding vehicle
  • Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (updated) with enhanced forward recognition and acceleration/deceleration performance across a wide range of speeds.
  • The automatic high beam system detects the lights of vehicles ahead, whether they are traveling in the same or opposite lane, and automatically adjusts the headlamps to low or high beam to enhance forward visibility during night time driving.

It is assuring to know that the 2019 RAV4 passed various tests including the crash test before arriving on the market.

  • Servicing and Maintenance

For many road users in Ghana, the car’s ability to go longer without servicing is crucial. However, the engine compartment, the vehicle interior and exterior, the electronics and gadget need to be checked regularly to ensure the vehicle lasts longer and maintained in top shape for outmost performance.

General maintenance should be performed on a daily basis if the need be by oneself or by a Toyota dealer. Also, scheduled maintenance should also be performed at specified intervals according to the maintenance schedule per the user manual.

Toyota Ghana offers free servicing at the first 1000km; where every part of the vehicle is inspected and ‘tweaking’ made where necessary. Subsequently, it’s highly recommended that servicing should be done at every 5000km mileage travelled.

Why buy the all-new Toyota 2019 RAV4 Adventure?

The all-new 2019 RAV4 Adventure is in a class of its own with a bold and impressive look. Besides the technology, it has a great off-road capability, superb engine performance, impressive steering and handling, an amazing infotainment system, top class safety and security features, plenty passenger and cargo space, excellent reliability and dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive that helps to keep the car stable and provide great traction.

Toyota Ghana 2019 RAV4 team described their experience with the all-new model as “vivacious, seamless, effortless and a diamond; a must see, must ride, must own vehicle.” The multiplicity of add-ons to the new RAV4 gives it an advantage over other SUV brands on the market.

So, whatever, whenever, wherever; the new RAV4 Adventure grade is ready to take you to places you ever dreamed of. Find your inspiration from its rugged design, impressive versatility and outstanding capability and fulfil your desire.

Granting the greatest assurance of efficient motoring has always been with Toyota Ghana Ltd., the sole Authorized Dealer of the Toyota brands. To purchase the all-new 2019 Toyota RAV4 Adventure, one can visit the Toyota Ghana showroom located off the Graphic Road (Head Office) and Kpone (Tema Branch), where best deals on Toyota vehicles awaits everyone.

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