The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Mr Alderman John Stuttard, has stated that the economic strides made by Ghana, backed by the exemplary democratic culture have made it the financial hub of the West African sub-region.
He said Ghana had become a role model in many respects for countries not only in Africa but outside it, and noted that the United Kingdom would be very pleased to work with Ghana to make this a reality.
Mr Stuttard stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi last Monday.
He stated that he was in the country to explore avenues of strengthening Ghana-UK ties as part of activities marking Ghana's Golden Jubilee.
He expressed the hope that the celebration of the country's Golden Jubilee would further propel the nation to achieve more for its people.
The Lord Mayor was accompanied to Manhyia by a number of personalities including the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Gordon Wetherrell, the Vice-President of Standard Chartered Bank, Ms Ann Grant, the Managing Director of TAYSEC Limited, Mr Andrew Holmes and Mr Kwame Pianim, a director of TAYSEC.
He traced the history of Ghana-UK relations, which he described as intertwined and said programmes developed between the two countries had benefited their peoples.
He indicated that currently there were about 8,000 British volunteers working to help improve lives in the communities, especially the rural areas of the country.
Mr Stuttard said the reduction of poverty was crucial to developing the country and expressed the hope that the government would continue to pursue programmes that would bring hope to the down-trodden.
He commended the Asantehene for playing a leading role in improving education in the country.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, in response, said Ghana was lucky to have the Lord Mayor to lead the first delegation from the UK in connection with the independence anniversary.
He said Manhyia and the Buckingham Palace had had close relations over the years and noted that the development of the relationship was very important for the peoples of Ghana and Britain.
He said democracy without education was nothing and added that that was why he had devoted much attention to the development of education not only in his area but in other parts of the country.
The Asantehene commended the British government for continuously supporting Ghana in her development efforts.
Mr Wetherell, the British High Commissioner to Ghana, stressed that 50 years had seen Ghana making a headway in many areas of national development.
In another development, the Lord Mayor stated that disability is a world-wide phenomenon and so it should be nothing to hide in life, reports Tim Dzamboe from Ho.
The Lord Mayor, therefore, lauded members of the Volta Physically-Handicapped Independent Group (VOLPHIG) for their courage in coming together to fight for their welfare and rights.
He said this when he paid a visit to the headquarters of VOLPHIG in Ho on Monday to interact with a section of its members and also hold a plenary session with the board members and staff of the Volta Disability Network (VODIN).
He declared that the 50th anniversary of the nation was a time for celebration and working together to help people with disabilities in Ghana, adding that he was very pleased with the work of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in the country, whose 50th anniversary also fell this year.
He said the visit was to explore new opportunities for collaboration with VOLPHIG to improve on the lives of its members and commended the Country Director of VSO, Mr Amidu Ibrahim Tanko, for effectively implementing the objectives of the organisation in the country.
In a welcoming address, the Chairman of the board of VOLPHIG, Mr Joseph Dehole Dometi, said the visit was an auspicious occasion because the organisation was privileged to host the Lord Mayor and his high-powered team during their four-day visit to the country.
“The visit by the Lord Mayor gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our ability, as disabled persons, that we can make a significant and valued contribution as members of our communities, villages and towns in the region,” he said.
Mr Dometi said as a rights-based organisation, VOLPHIG was engaged in gender equality, human rights empowerment, mobility rehabilitation support, corrective surgery, self-help groups and HIV/AIDS education.
He said the Disability Law, 2006, provided an ideal opportunity to work in partnership with local government institutions, particularly in the fields of health, education, social welfare and employment.
According to Mr Tanko, there were 55 VSO volunteers in the country as of last year, with five in the Volta Region, adding that 20 more volunteers were expected in February.
The Lord Mayor of London was accompanied by the Chief Executive of the Daily Mail Newspaper Group, Mr Charles Sinclair, and his wife Nicky.
Mr Sinclair is the chairman of the 50th anniversary committee of VSO in the United Kingdom. The group had earlier paid a courtesy call on the Volta Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Kofi Dzamesi.
Story by Kwame Asare Boadu,