THE GHANA-CUBA historical bond of friendship was on Thursday taken to a new level following the signing of a Permanent Joint Commission Cooperation in Accra.
The Joint Commission covered broad areas of cooperation including education and sports, health, trade and investment, tourism, scientific and industrial research as well as initiative for the private sector.
Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, Akwesi Osei Adjei initialed for Ghana while the Cuban Senior Minister of Government, Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz signed for his country.
Under the agreement, 200 Cuban specialists including professors and technicians would be sent to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University for Development Studies, Tamale, to give lectures in human anatomy; biochemistry; biochemical medicine and histology; as well as institute the new doctors' training programme in Ghana.
Cuba has as well agreed to offer 30 scholarships to Ghanaian students, 20 of whom are to be trained in medicine and the remaining in chemical engineering; sports; health technology and mining.
These came to light during the Vice President's recent visit to Cuba which helped to set out the parameters for the cooperation.
The Memorandum of Understanding would offer Cuba the opportunity to support Information Technology and Communication through the offering of industrial capacity in exportable services, as well as turn key projects and services of telecommunications and radio communications engineering.
The two countries have agreed on an exchange programme between lecturers and students with the view to developing software applications in e-governance, health and e-education.
Concerning agriculture, Ghana would assist Union Confitera of Cuba to become members of the Federation of Cocoa Commerce, UK, to enable Cuba purchase cocoa from the Cocoa Marketing Company.
To this end, the two sides have agreed to implement the training in Cuba of personnel from the Cocoa Processing Company in the manufacture of Artesanal chocolate. There would also be technical assistance from Cuba in the implementation of agro-processing technologies for fruits and vegetables for small to medium scale enterprises and this would include the training of local artisans in the manufacture of small-scale agro-processing equipment.
The sugar and salt industries would also be revamped as preparations are far advanced for the setting up of a sugar industry with the possibility of producing by-products of social and economic interest in Ghana.
Mr. Osei Adjei expressed appreciation to the Cuban government for its contribution to Ghana's development, saying its support demonstrates the two governments' commitment to the principles and objectives of south-south cooperation.
He however expressed concern about the low level of formal trading activities between the two countries and expressed the hope that economic relations would be developed and sustained in a mutually beneficial situation within the next two years.
The Cuban Minister also expressed profound gratitude to Ghana for voting in favour of the Cuban resolution on the 'Necessity to put an end to the economic, financial and commercial blockage imposed by the US against Cuba' and its response to the Secretary General's Note in 2007 concerning the condemnation of this genocide policy.
He expressed his country's willingness to cooperate with Ghana in an energy-saving programme, mainly through the substitution of incandescent bulbs with energy-saving ones.
The signing ceremony coincided with the 14th session of the Ghana-Cuba Permanent Joint Commission for cooperation.
The session takes place every two years.
By Sheilla Sackey