President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, have committed to collaborate more to eradicate the twin evils of terrorism and instability that threatened the security and socio-economic fortunes of Africa and Europe.
Both leaders also pledged to strengthen the bonds of friendship between their countries and forge more mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of trade and investment to foster sustainable growth and opportunities for the people of Ghana and France.
Presidents Akufo-Addo and Macron made those affirmations after symbolically laying wreaths and lighting the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph on the Liberation Monument at the Independence Square in Accra
The symbolism of the ceremony was a remembrance of heroes who fell in the fight for world peace.
Mr Macron is in Ghana on a day’s official visit. His historic presence in the country, which celebrates over six decades of relations between both nations, tilts more towards diplomacy and economic advantages, particularly in the areas of trade, investment, educational and cultural exchanges, as well as seeking greater cooperation in the fight against migration and Islamic militancy.
Both Presidents harped on the need for unity between Africa and Europe to promote greater human rights across the globe, pursue more integration efforts, and forge partnerships that would tackle the challenges of health, security, climate change, sustainable development, growth and employment, terrorism and education.
President Akufo-Addo told the French leader that Ghana stood with France in the fight against extremism and would spare no efforts to strengthen cooperations that would yield positive outcomes for the peoples of both nations and continents
Noting that Ghana shares borders on the East, West and North with French-speaking countries, he said “we recognize the strategic importance of our immediate neighbours and France to the development of Ghana”
It is for the reason that during his time as Ghana’s foreign minister under former President Kufuors tenure, he led a delegation in 2006 to the Francophonie Summit in Budapest, during Jacques Chirac administration, which resulted in Ghana being a member of the Francophonie, without first being made an observer nation.
President Akufo-Addo said projections that French would be the world’s most spoken language by 2050, makes it necessary that, “our lives as Ghanaians are linked with the Francophone world, and this strategic association should serve as a big boost for addressing some of our mutual concerns”
Ghana’s strategic interest, he said, requires that “we promote regional integration of countries of West Africa…we have to play a central role in enhancing the process of creating a genuine regional market out of ECOWAS, which is dominated by Francophone countries.
Ghana and France have strong ties in trade and investment, security cooperation among others. Statistics indicate that French investment in Ghana totalled some 1.5 billion Euros in 2015, making Ghana the seventh biggest destination for French investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We believe we can improve on this,” President Akufo-Addo said, adding that, his government was taking measures to make Ghana the most business-friendly economy in Africa.
“These measures are aimed at attracting investments into Ghana, as well as stimulating growth of the private sector… we have decided to turn our back on the old economy that is dependent on export of raw material. We want to build a value-added industrialized economy with a modernized agriculture. We would not want to be a pawn of the world economic order,” he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo told his French counterpart that Ghana-France relations should be characterized by investment, trade and cooperation and not aid.
“This is the way to develop healthy relations between our two countries and put Ghana at the high end of the value chain in the global marketplace and create jobs for the teeming masses of Ghanaians ….our vision is to build a free, prosperous nation, a Ghana beyond aid.”
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with France in the promotion of human rights on the African Continent, and across the globe …the current barbaric slave auctions of Africans in Libya are not only gross and scandalous abuse of human rights but are also mockeries of the alleged solidarity of African nations grouped in the African Union of which Libya is a member.
“We stand shoulder to shoulder with France in the rejection of terrorism as a legitimate means of resolving political issues…we appreciate very much France’s courageous participation in the fight against terrorism in Mali and the rest of the Sahel.
“We stand should to shoulder with France in attempting to develop our economies to provide opportunities for its citizens to fulfil its aspirations. We stand ready to renew and deepen our relations with France for the prosperity and progress of our two peoples,” president Akufo-Addo said
Mr Macron, who was elated to be in Ghana, said his country wanted to build a partnership with Ghana based on the “common past and common aspirations.”
He said France shared in Ghana’s value of championing freedom, human rights and democratic values, which has inspired many other African nations and the global community as a whole.
“Ghana remains an inspiration today…Its sense of democracy is a beacon for many countries in Africa and beyond. I am grateful to be here to celebrate Ghana’s history, its democracy and good governance.” he said.
President Macron called for unity among African states, commending Ghana on its role in the quest for regional integration, saying that, Africa could only take control of its future when there was unity and stability on the Continent
“I am proud that Ghana and France have always been calling for the unification of the continent.
France is strong in Europe and Ghana is strong in West Africa and the AU, not only must Africa unite but also Europe and Africa must unite.
“Unite to join forces and energy to build a common future, unite to tackle challenges that face our generation; education, health, security, terrorism, climate change, sustainable development, growth and employment….all these challenges shared by both continents can only be addressed by both Continents uniting,” he said.
“I don’t think that we can succeed…I don’t think France or Europe can succeed without Africa, And I don’t think at all that countries like Ghana can succeed without a stronger Africa and a stronger partnership between Africa and Europe.”
Mr Macron said his country would strengthen its partnership with Ghana at every level; political, economic, security and culture, saying that, “we must reinforce our bilateral exchanges, education and business exchanges and cross investment because of the common interest both our countries share”.