SPEECH BY H.E. MR. KWESI AHWOI, HIGH COMMISSIONER OF GHANA TO THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA ON THE OCCASION OF GHANA`S 58TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY PRETORIA COUNTRY CLUB, FRIDAY, 6TH MARCH, 2015
Hon. Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education of the Republic of South Africa, Acting Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Your Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Representatives of Government Departments and Corporate Bodies, Friends of Ghana, Members of the Ghanaian Community, Ladies and Gentlemen, Sanibonani, Molweni, Dumelang, a warm Akwaaba to Ghana’s 58th Independence Anniversary celebration, which happily, is the first public function I am hosting as High Commissioner. I bid a very special welcome to you, Hon. Angie Motshekga, for gracing this event with your presence and for the privilege of sharing this podium with you.
Today, Ghanaians back home and around the world commemorate the attainment of independence from colonial rule and celebrate our achievements as a Nation. We do so with sober reflection on how far we have come, the challenges we currently face in nation-building and how far we still have to go, in our united quest for sustainable socio-economic development.
Today, we recall the sacrifices and contributions of our founding fathers spearheaded by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who led the struggle for independence, as well as successive post-independence leaders, whose combined efforts have brought us thus far as a Nation.
Today, we also recall the reverberating words of Osagyefo as he ushered in our independence thus, and I quote “At long last, the battle has ended! And thus Ghana, our beloved country, is free forever!! end quote.
On this occasion, Distinguished Guests, we also recall the pan-Africanist vision and ideals that our founding fathers pursued in their time, as articulated by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on the declaration of Ghana’s Independence thus and I quote “our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa,” end quote. Words that echoed throughout the world as we awaited the political emancipation of the Republic of South Africa, the last bastion of colonialism in 1994. Then and only then was Ghana’s independence total, complete and meaningful. Vision and ideals which remain relevant today and continue to inspire not only Ghanaians, but the entire African continent and peoples of African descent.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The vision of Ghana’s founding fathers remain very much the focus of H.E. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, who has demonstrated dynamic leadership and a commitment to building a prosperous, inclusive, free and just society, where the legitimate aspirations of every Ghanaian can be realized.
The three pillars of his Transformational Agenda, namely – i) putting people first; ii) building a strong and resilient economy; and iii) good and transparent governance – constitute core objectives of the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (2014-2020), which set out priority programmes and initiatives that Government intends to pursue in the short to medium term.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana has since the onset of its Fourth Republic in 1992, steadily proven its democratic credentials and economic potential. Today, we hold an enviable position as one of Africa’s fast growing economies with sustained political stability, good governance and well-developed democratic institutions.
Investor confidence in Ghana continues to grow, with foreign direct investment inflows in 2014 reaching US$3.57 billion. The over-subscription of the 2014 US$1 billion Eurobond is further testimony of the continuing confidence in Ghana’s economy.
Indeed, Ghana’s economic prospects remain positive even in the face of macroeconomic challenges and the negative effects of global economic trends. The resilience of our economy has enabled us remain afloat in the worst of times. Though faced with dwindling access to concessionary financing from development partners, Government has been able to meet national infrastructural gaps and the growing demand for essential social services.
In the face of a debilitating energy crisis in the last seventeen (17) months, Ghana has seized the opportunity to restructure its energy sector with measures to address the problem in the short and long-term. 1000 MW of emergency power is to be procured in the coming months while Government pursues other medium-to-long term measures to inject 3,665 MW of power into our transmission grid in the next five years to guarantee our future energy security. In this regard, emphasis is on energy conservation and incorporation of renewable energy into our supply mix. I take this opportunity, to invite our international partners and the investor community to invest not only in the vast array of profitable opportunities but specifically in the power sector, under independent power production (IPP) arrangements, taking advantage of the generous incentives on offer.
Ghana continues to give meaning to its policy of putting people first, through improvements in health delivery, provision of quality and relevant educational facilities, investment in social infrastructure and social protection for the vulnerable including children and the aged. We have made substantial progress in meeting our MDG targets in ending hunger, gender equality and education and have fully met the targets in the elimination of extreme poverty and access to safe drinking water.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, In line with our policy of good neighbourliness, Ghana is committed to the laudable objectives of ECOWAS and the full economic integration of the sub-region. Since his assumption of the Chair of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in 2014, President John Dramani Mahama has worked assiduously to give meaning to the objectives of the Community. Ghana has stood in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in dealing with the Ebola epidemic and currently hosts the Coordination Centre for the United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). We continue to support the search for peace in Mali and stand in solidarity with Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin countries in their fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group. We look forward to successful elections this year in our neighbouring Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea.
As a viable member of the international community, Ghana is also committed to its membership of the African Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations. We stand ready to work with all peace-loving countries to achieve global peace and security and the socio-economic advancement of people as we begin the global discourse in setting the post-2015 development agenda.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to state that cooperation between Ghana and South Africa has grown by leaps and bounds since formal bilateral relations were established in 1994. The bonds of friendship that we enjoy are underscored by our shared commitment to the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights as enshrined in our respective constitutions. Political dialogue continues between our two countries both at the bilateral level and at key multilateral fora such as the African Union and the United Nations. Ghana is greatly encouraged by the common positions that our two countries share on peace and security, peacekeeping, reconstruction and development. Our shared commitment to multilateralism is also reflected in our joint efforts in seeking a greater role for the African continent in global economic affairs.
Over the past twenty years, our two countries have exchanged visits at the highest level and held regular consultations to advance our mutual interests and to address common developmental challenges. We recall with satisfaction, Agreements and MoUs in transport and related services, bilateral air services, mutual recognition of standards and in electricity generation, which were signed during the state visit of His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to Ghana in November 2013. I wish to state that Ghana is committed to meeting the targets of the Implementation Plans of these Agreements and looks forward to finalizing negotiations on similar Agreements in the areas of agriculture, trade and tourism in the course of 2015.
The Government of Ghana has noted with deep appreciation the increasing number of South African private investments in Ghana, particularly in the areas of infrastructure development including real estate, telecommunications, financial services, health, defence, environment, aviation, energy and trading. We are encouraged by the increased trade and business links between our two countries, which reflected in a 13% increase in the number of South Africans travelling to Ghana in 2014 in search of business opportunities. In West Africa, Ghana is the second largest market for South Africa after Nigeria and the large shopping malls in Ghana, which are joint ventures between Ghanaian and South African investors, currently host many of South Africa’s famous brands.
Total bilateral trade for 2014 was valued at 10.8 billion Rand, while South African investment in Ghana between January 2003 and February 2014 stood at a total value of 71.54 billion Rand.
An important element of our relations resides in the numerous Ghanaians who have made South Africa their home and who continue to act as worthy ambassadors of our country. While expressing our deepest appreciation for the hospitality and warmth that Ghanaians continue to enjoy in this esteemed and beautiful country, I urge my worthy country men and women to continue to excel in their various endeavours and to join in our efforts to build strong and mutually beneficial relations between our peoples.
In conclusion, Distinguished Guests, I wish to thank you all for honouring us with your presence this afternoon. My special thanks go to our Guest of Honour Hon. Angie Motshegka, Minister for Basic Education and the officials of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for making this day a special one. My appreciation goes to the staff of the Pretoria Country Club and my colleagues at the Ghana High Commission for the hard work that has gone into making this event possible. To my dear wife, Ewura-Abena who has been a constant support in my public service, I say meda w’ase, thank you
Ladies and Gentlemen, l now have the honour and pleasure to invite you to raise your glasses and drink to the health of the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, the Government and People of South Africa and to strengthening the bonds of friendship between the Republic of Ghana and the Republic of South Africa.
Long live Ghana!
Long live South Africa!
Long live Ghana-South Africa relations!