From Gideon Sackitey
Atlanta, Georgia, Sept 23, GNA - The Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama has opened the Ghana EXPO 2004 declaring that government is determined to making the private sector the prime mover of development and socio-economic advancement in Ghana.
He therefore, urged business operators in the United States and beyond to take time and explore the immense business and economic opportunities in Ghana with the mind of bridging the gap of development and take the relationship between Ghana and the United States to a more formidable one of mutual benefits.
Alhaji Aliu Mahama was speaking at the opening of the second in succession of the Ghana EXPO 2004, an event organized by EXPO Africa Limited to create a platform for frank mutually beneficial dialogue between Ghanaian and American businesses. It is also to showcase the numerous trade and investment opportunities in Ghana.
Present at the ceremony was Ms Mary Carlin Yates, US Ambassador to Ghana, Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin and Karen Handel, representative of the Governor of Atlanta, Georgia.
The event is the first-ever by an African country to enter into the US market on such a scale and magnitude. Organizers say over 200 Ghanaian companies and businesses operators are participating in the event.
The first Ghana EXPO was held last year in the Alexandra Palace buildings in London in the United Kingdom.
Alhaji Aliu described the EXPO 2004 as a natural advancement of the Ghana-US relations, which present the two countries with a "future of endless opportunities" - the theme of Ghana EXPO 2004.
"Indeed, the opportunities for investment in Ghana and the larger sub-region of West Africa are endless. That is why the government of Ghana fully endorses Ghana EXPO 2004 as it will provide a forum for frank and mutually beneficial dialogue and open the numerous investment avenues in the country."
He noted that Ghana is endowed with natural resources such as vast mineral deposits, large expanse of tropical rain forest and land for agricultural, long coastline stocked with variety of fish and seafood and fine beaches for hotels leisure and other holiday resort facilities, among others.
Alhaji Aliu noted that in line with the government's Golden Age of Business, "we have recognized the private sector as the engine of growth and wealth creation to alleviate the incidence of poverty from our society, to which he said the Ministry of Private Sector is vigorously pursuing.
He mentioned the President's Special Initiative (PSI) aimed at facilitating an accelerated export development drive in Ghana, within the framework of public private sector partnership to fast track the growth of the Ghanaian economy.
Ghana would have, under the PSI, the development of garment, cassava starch salt and oil palm industries, Vice-President Aliu noted, saying that they have been chosen because of their multiplier effect on the economy ... through forward and backward linkages, and are export oriented.
He said the EXPO was Ghana's way of informing the United States and indeed the whole world that Ghana is ripe for investment and in fact is a safe investment destination having achieved a very stable democratic political system for almost two decades now.
The Vice-President said Ghana is keenly modernizing all the relevant laws in the country to provide a simpler, efficient and cost effective framework for carrying out business activities. These he noted, have the potential of protecting all the small business operators within and outside the country.
Ghana has reviewed its Investment protection Act which makes investment activities in Ghana easy and more efficient for all while creating a stop opportunity for all.
The country is rated B+ and B by Standard and Poors and Fisch rating Agency.
Alhaji Aliu said government would not be complacent with its achievements over the last four years, "but will continue to improve our performance in response to the needs of the private sector and for that matter the business community both local and foreign.
He told the gathering that included, American businessmen, investors and operators that government has developed a New Industrial Reform and Accerlerated Growth Agenda for Trade and Industry piloted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which is informed by the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy document meant to assist the country achieve the growth rate target of 8.6 per cent in GDP in the medium term and attain a per capita income of 1,000 dollars.
The Vice-President commended Otumfuo Osei Tutu, the Asantehene for his support and commitment to developing a stable socio economic regime in Ghana and for uplifting education for the less privileged.
The Mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin said Atlanta and for that matter America was open for business and cooperation with Ghana and Africa and pledged the support of the City to Ghana EXPO and all that the Ghanaian government is keen on doing to making life worth more for all.
Mr Kwame Owusu Afriyie, Executive Director of EXPO Africa Limited said the event is a modern tale of two cities which must be exploited to the fullest positively for the mutual benefit of the people's of the two countries.