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Mar 26, 2013

Ambassador: Ghana a Source of Inspiration for Neighbors

Resize Text  David Caselli, Kennesaw State University

Daniel Ohene Agyekum, Ghana's ambassador to the United States, left, talks with Kennesaw State University Daniel Papp, second from left, and other speakers at the Year of Ghana conference.

Ghana is often held up as an archetypal African democracy, with peaceful transfers under its belt since the constitution was reformed in the early 1990s.

But while it has become an inspiration for its neighbors, the West African nation has no intention of leaving them behind, Daniel Ohene Agyekum, Ghana's ambassador to the United States, said at Kennesaw State University March 22.

Ghana, a former British colony that achieved independence 56 years ago, must become a hub of a regional movement toward democratic governance and economic prosperity that includes its French-speaking neighbors in the bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS.

"It is critically important that everything we do we do as a sub region, and the French [-speaking countries] being the dominant factor, should be part of all that we do for Ghana, for the sub region and for Africa," Mr. Agyekum said in remarks launching the Year of Ghana conference, which culminated a yearlong series of programs focusing on the country.

Its willingness to accept a leadership role highlights Ghana's "impressive trajectory" in both politics and economics, said Kennesaw State University President Daniel Papp, who had returned from the country a few days before the conference.

It was Dr. Papp's first visit to Ghana since the 1980s, and the changes were evident as he led faculty to visit universities in the capital city of Accra and Cape Coast.

"While Ghana remains a top producer on the global level of gold and cocoa, its economy has become increasingly diversified," with mining, construction and power generation growing as a proportion of the economy, Dr. Papp said.

The question is whether 20 years of growth averaging 5 percent per year will translate into better infrastructure, less poverty and more opportunities for its 25 million citizens, he said.

"Ghana appears to be a country on the right path. Can Ghana maintain this trajectory? Can it continue its economic growth and maintain its political tranquility?" Dr. Papp said.

The year of Ghana conference, titled "Ghana: A Model for Democratic Governance, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development?" was set to explore those issues.

Dan Paracka, Kennesaw's director of education abroad, said the conference is another milestone in the exchange program it has had with the University of Cape Coast for more than a decade.

The universities have found ready support from the ambassador.

"Our mission in Washington remains committed to pursuing this objective, providing whatever assistance that we can to ensure that we succeed as partners," Mr. Agyekum said.

He also brought greetings on behalf of Ghana's new president, John Dramani Mahama, and said he would consider coming to Georgia during a trip to the United States later this year.

Source:  Trevor Williams