The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway on Special Missions, Hans Wilhelm Longva, on Friday said it was important for Ghana to go into joint commission with her four shoreline member countries to facilitate her continental shelf delineation project.
He said the joint commission among the member sates namely Togo, Benin, Nigeria and La Cote d'Ivoire would ensure cooperation with regards to the extension of their continental shelves.
Mr Longva made the observation when he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in Accra.
He was in the country to attend a three-day experts meeting of some member states of ECOWAS on the outer limits of the continental shelf under the auspices of ECOWAS Commission and the Kingdom of Norway.
The Ghana National Continental Shelf Project was inaugurated in August 2007 to take the necessary actions required to enable Ghana to submit a claim for the extension of her continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (approximately 370 kilometres).
In that regard, Norway is assisting Ghana and other ECOWAS member states to prepare submissions to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for the extension of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles for consideration.
The deadline for the submission is May 13, 2009, and is in consonance with Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which enjoins coastal states to make submissions to the UN on the Limits and extension of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.
Mr Longva said the Kingdom of Norway, conscious of the difficulties faced by some coastal States in the formulation of their submission, was in the process of carrying out preliminary studies on behalf of some West African countries including Somalia on the basis of information available in the GRID-Arendal data base in Norway.
He said another worry to Norway was the way rain forests in both Africa, South America and across the world were being destroyed.
“Rain forests are like the lungs of the human body and if the lung is sick, the whole body is affected as well,” he said, adding that to address the issue Norway had made funds available for the conservation of rain forests.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Land and Natural Resources, commended Norway for its numerous support for Ghana.
He recalled Norway's assistance to the country in getting her a Land Use Guide, which he said, was very helpful to the country and urged the Norwegian Government to assist in other environmental areas in the forestry sector.
On the project, the Minister stressed the need for member countries to agree on issues to enable them to meet the May 13 deadline.
Alhaji Dauda said Ghana was ahead of the other countries and pledged government's preparedness to assist them to be at par with Ghana.
Mr Ellis Paul Atiglah, Acting Technical Director of the Ministry said for one to get the nod from the UN, one had to provide enough data to justify the claim that the geological area of one's land extended into the sea.
He said the next stage for Ghana after engaging her shoreline members was to prepare the submission.
Mr Atiglah, also a member of the steering committee, said the committee would be engaging Benin, Togo and Nigeria, adding that “we hope to have something on paper to support our submission.”