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Mar 16, 2015

U.S. Mission Celebrates Ghana’s 58 Years of Nationhood


His Excellency Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Henry Smith, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States of America on Friday, March 6, 2015 said Ghana’s 58th Independence anniversary gives Ghanaians the chance to reflect on developments over the past years and cast their sights forward to anticipate future challenges and opportunities. 

The Ambassador, who was speaking at the 58th independence anniversary of Ghana at the Chancery said one such area that the country would be examining as the country celebrate her independence was the bilateral relations between Ghana and the United States. 

“Ghana celebrates the vibrant partnership between Ghana and the United States – a partnership that has steadily expanded and matured since our independence in 1957” he said.

Below is the full text of His Excellency Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Henry Smith’s speech

 

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY LT. GEN. (RTD.) JOSEPH HENRY SMITH AT RECEPTION COMMEMORATING GHANA’S 58TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVESARY ON 6TH MARCH, 2015

 

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary of African Affairs & Representative of the U.S. Government,

Honourable Ministers,

Excellences,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguish Guests,

Fellow Ghanaians,

I welcome all of you in joining us this evening to celebrate our country’s 58th Independence Anniversary.  It is a delight to have our friends, development partners and our compatriots here, and as we say in Ghana, “akwaaba”.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Achieving Transformation Through National Unity”.

As we celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence, it is incumbent upon us to pay homage to our forbearers and ancestors who have all been part of the achievements we see today.  Every Ghanaian should be proud of them.

The anniversary also gives us the chance to reflect on developments over the past year and cast our sights forward to anticipate future challenges and opportunities.  One such area that we examine tonight is the bilateral relations between Ghana and the United States.  Tonight, we celebrate the vibrant partnership between Ghana and the United States – a partnership that has steadily expanded and matured since our independence in 1957.

We greatly value our ties of friendship and cooperation during the past year, which witnessed a tightening of the steadfast and longstanding relations between our two countries.  As a major development and strategic partner, we highly appreciate the support the U.S. has been extending to Ghana since the establishment of diplomatic relations 58 years ago.

Our strategic partnership covers a wide spectrum of areas including, energy, agriculture, health, education, global peace and security, climate change, people-to-people contacts all forms of illegal trafficking and other global challenges.  Our two countries also share a long history in promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.  

The Government and people of Ghana are indeed grateful for the numerous U.S. Government programmes and initiatives the country is benefiting from. These include AGOA, Power Africa, Trade Africa, the Open Government Partnership, Feed the Future, the Security Governance Initiative, Partnership for Growth, Global Climate Change Initiative, Global Health Initiative, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also supports many programmes in Ghana, including the U.S. International Visitor Programme.  Our militaries too cooperate in several fields.  We cannot forget that the U.S. Peace Corps has a large and progressive programme in Ghana, with volunteers working in education, agriculture, and health sectors (including HIV/AIDS, malaria, sanitation, and nutrition).

The Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact II signed last year, during the U.S. – Africa Leaders’ Summit, is very critical to the socio-economic development of Ghana because it is devoted to improving the country's energy generation and supply in support of the government's plan of providing 5000MW of power by the year 2016.  I can assure you that the Government is working assiduously to resolve the energy challenges facing the country.  A major step towards this is the creation of the Ministry of power to harness and coordinate all activities in that sector.  We can be confident about the future because all the generation planning being executed by the Government are meant to secure the country’s medium to long term energy needs.

We all know that the situation with the Ebola Virus Disease in our sub-region is manageable now, thanks to the support of our international partners and friendly countries. We are most grateful to President Obama for America’s leadership in galvanising an international coalition in an attempt to stamp out the virus.  We believe that ECOWAS, under the tireless leadership of H.E. President John Dramani Mahama, the current Chair, and with the unwavering and continued support of the international community, we will beat the virus. 

There is no denying the macro-economic challenges Ghana has been going through recently, but I can assure you that the Government has not relented in its efforts to overcome them.  The agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund recently, is to a large extent, meant to strengthen the Home-Grown Reform policies being currently implemented.  The expectation is that all the initiatives by Government will begin to yield great results this year and turn the economy around. 

Our country has enormous potential and the mid-term prospects look good!!  The Government has embarked upon a Transformation Agenda and the aim of this agenda is to improve and stabilize the Ghanaian economy by transforming it from one that is heavily dependent on imports to producing and exporting those goods in which we have a comparative advantage.  

The Government is providing support to various sectors of the economy with a view toward improving their facilities and expanding output to curb imports, create new employment opportunities and contribute to the realignment of the economy.  All over the country, the Government has embarked on projects – namely housing, roads, water, schools and many more – all aimed at improving the wellbeing of the people.

The current economic challenges are only temporal and would be surmounted to pave the way for a flourishing economy.  Our interest and desire is to cooperate with our friends in our efforts to build a stronger, safer and Better Ghana.

Ghana will continue to be a beacon of hospitality, democracy and a model for openness and transparency in our governance and democratic practices, as well as an oasis of peace and stability in our region.  We, therefore, ask our friends, business partners and investors not to relent in their efforts to bring investment into all sectors of the country’s economy for our mutual benefit.

My speech will be incomplete without a special mention of you.  My brothers and sisters, you are at home here at the Embassy and a special welcome goes to you all.  I cannot over emphasis the immense contribution your remittances back home have made to our national development over the years.  I can tell you that is the reason why the Government has taken a step further to set up a mechanism for dialogue around the issue of how to harness the diasporan wealth of resources and human capital for the benefit of the country.  The Diaspora Desk in the Embassy is charged with that responsibility.  Eventually, a skills bank that would enable Ghanaian professionals outside the country to use their skills to propel national development will be set up.  This is to enable citizens living outside the country to support national development.

We will be reaching out to you very soon to interact with you on a number of issues.  I am happy to say that some of you have already started reaching out to us in the Embassy with very useful suggestions and I want to reiterate that our doors are open to you all.

I encourage all of us to have faith in the country and the Government and support all the efforts to move the country forward.  I congratulate all of you on this special occasion.

May I now invite you all to raise your glasses and drink to an enduring and warm friendship between Ghana and the United States and to the health and prosperity of President Barack Obama and the people of the United States of America.

Long live Ghana, long live Ghana – U.S. relations!!

THANK YOU.