U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday praised President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his leadership in response to recent democratic backsliding in West Africa and standing up for democratic principles around the world.
“Under your leadership, Ghana has been a beacon of democracy and a contributor to global peace and security,”
Ms Harris was speaking at a joint news conference at the Jubilee House, Accra, after bilateral talks with President Akufo-Addo at which she announced a $100 million package to help address the threats of violent extremism and stabilisation efforts in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo.
“Your leadership in particular and personal engagement have strengthened the ties between the diaspora and the continent. President Joe Biden and I are grateful to have you as a partner,” she said.
The package, the U.S., Vice President explained, complemented an earlier strategic plan announced by President Joe Biden, for coastal West Africa, to prevent conflict and promote stability.
Ms Harris said the United States was strengthening partnerships across the African continent and “we are guided not by what we can do for Africa, but by what we can do with Africa and African partners on this continent.”
With African nations playing significant roles in global issues such as food security, climate crisis and resilient supply chains, she stressed that African voices, including that of Ghana, “are critical to global peace and security, including the defence of the United Nations charter.”
“African ingenuity and devotion, I am certain will shape the future of the world,” she said on her first official engagement in Africa.
She is on a week-long trip to the continent, which will also take her to Tanzania and Zambia, as part of the U.S. efforts to deepen ties with and scale up its investments in Africa.
On the present economic circumstances of Ghana, Ms Harris said she “recognized the challenges Ghanaians were facing especially in the wake of the global pandemic of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
She indicated that the United States was fully in support of Ghana’s engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and would push for debt reduction by the country’s bilateral creditors.
“We welcome Ghana’s commitment to reforming its economy to deliver sustainable growth…we support Ghana’s engagement with the IMF and will continue to push for all bilateral creditors to provide meaningful debt reduction for countries that need it, including Ghana.
“We must work together as an international community to ease the debt burden that is facing far too many countries. It is critical to do so to build long-term economic growth and prosperity and to increase US investment, a key priority for our administration, and in particular, private sector investment., she said.
“Our partnership with Ghana is already strong and today, Mr President, I believe we strengthened it even more.
President Akufo-Addo described his meeting with the U.S. Vice President as “successful,” as both sides reaffirmed the commitment to collaborate further and provide mutual support at both bilateral and multilateral levels.
He said the U.S. Vice President pledged America’s support for Ghana’s transformative agenda, adding, “it is this transformation that would give us the best opportunity to derive maximum benefit from our abundant natural resources and enable us to create a firmer foundation for a meaningful long-term economic and commercial relations with the United States of America.”
The President said Ghana would continue to collaborate with the US at all levels towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts and in the search for global peace and security to promote sustainable development around the world.
He pointed out that although he was concerned about terror groups, he had no formal confirmation that al-Qaida was present in Ghana.
On a question on the operations of the Russian mercenary force, Wagner, in the region, President Akufo-Addo said he worried that the group could expand its footprint in West Africa.
“It raises the very real possibility that once again our continent is going to become the playground for a great power conflict,” Akufo-Addo said.
The President also rejected concerns about China’s influence in the region, insisting that Ghana’s relations with were separate from one another, and said the ties with America “is a relationship that has been close over several decades.”