Address By Ambassador Fritz K. Poku On The Occasion Of Ghana's 48th Independence Anniversary - Friday March 4, 2005
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Officials from the Federal Government Departments & Agencies, Representatives of Corporate America Distinguished Friends of Ghana, Fellow Countrymen,
It is my greatest pleasure to welcome you to the Embassy on the happy and auspicious occasion of the celebration of the 48th anniversary of the Independence of Ghana. In doing so, let me convey to you, very warm greetings from His Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, whose inauguration for a second and final term of office as President of the Republic of Ghana, took place in Accra in January this year.
Being the first reception hosted by the Embassy on such a grand scale, since my arrival in Washington D.C. to assume duty as the Ambassador of Ghana to the United States, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere delight in seeing again old acquaintances, and my heartfelt thanks to all the others who have been so kind to grace this occasion with their presence. Your presence here in such large numbers indeed means a lot to us. It is a mark of your goodwill and love for Ghana
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 6th of March, which is only a couple of days away, marks a great moment in the annals of Ghana's political history. We are therefore gathered here today, not merely to perform a ceremony, but more importantly, to reflect on both our historical and immediate past. As we celebrate our achievements and our contribution to the advancement of international peace and security, in partnership with other freedom loving nations, we also examine how far we have either kept faith with or deviated from our vision as a nation, within the context of our shared beliefs and common human heritage.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I begin by re-stating that Ghana has had a rather checkered political history. For quite a considerable part of her 48 years of independence, military dictatorships, under a variety of names and acronyms, held sway in the governance of the country. It was only just a little over a decade ago that participatory democracy and the use of the ballot box gained a strong foothold in Ghana's body politic.
I need to stress, however, that the concepts of “Freedom and Justice” and democratic governance have never been alien to the Ghanaian polity. It is for this reason that I found most heartwarming the strong and noble sentiments expressed by President Bush in his determination to ensure the spread of Freedom, Liberty and Democracy throughout the world, during his recent inaugural address delivered at the Capitol Hill.
Besides, the ideals of freedom, liberty and democracy are universal. And I am fully persuaded that these are desirable goals worth pursuing by any country which is eager to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours. For, as we have found out through our struggles and growth as a nation, there resides in every human soul, a desire for freedom and liberty, and it is only the principles, norms and values of democratic governance that can guarantee the fulfillment of this desire. The words, Freedom And Justice, as inscribed on the Ghana Coat of Arms, are therefore pregnant with truth and meaning as far as Ghana's experience is concerned.
We are therefore gratified, as Ghanaians, that since 1992 we have blazed a new trail as a democratic, stable and peaceful country. In this regard Ghana is thankful for the considerable support and assistance from our international partners, such as the government and great people of the United States of America. With such support and encouragement, democratic governance has entrenched itself in Ghana, and the country can now pride itself as a beacon of hope for Africa. No wonder that Ghana was the first African country to submit itself to the scrutiny of the African Peer Review Mechanism under the NEPAD process.
Having emerged into a new era of true democratic dispensation over the last few years, under the New Patriotic Party government, Ghanaians are now enjoying an atmosphere of veritable freedom. This has helped in the rediscovery and development of the peoples' self-confidence required in the building of a modern and prosperous nation. Driven by the “Agenda for Positive Change,” the government's first term of office succeeded in laying a sound foundation for rapid economic growth and development and in improving the country's image vis-a-vis her development partners and international financial institutions and investors.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks to the government's impressive economic performance, Ghana enjoys a B+ credit rating from the prestigious Standard and Poors. This has paved the way for multinational companies such as Anglogold-Ashanti, Newmont Mining Company, Nestle Ghana Ltd, Coca Cola, Unilever, Heinekens-Guiness and Alcoa, among others, to expand their presence in the country. The country has twice, and in succession, gained eligibility for the highly competitive Millennium Challenge Account, established by the United States government. We see this as a strong vote of confidence in the country's strong democratic credentials and sound economic performance. Ghana also, in the past year, reached the completion point in the HIPC Debt Relief process and thereby gained substantial debt forgiveness from both bilateral and multilateral donors, as a result of prudent macro and micro economic management.
In his “State of the Nation” Address, delivered in Parliament in January this year, President Kufuor launched the Agenda for Positive Change Chapter Two for the government's second term, which will, among other things, promote a new concept of “Ghana Incorporated.” The concept, according to His Excellency the President, “will defy ethnic, religious, political and gender barriers to embrace the entire society to swiftly and effectively push Ghana's development agenda forward.” This will be in line with his vision of the “Golden Age of Business” as announced by the government on taking the reins of power in the year 2001.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Without any fear of contradiction, I think Ghana today represents an acceptable model of good governance and democracy. It has demonstrated a credible commitment to international and regional cooperation and integration. It has a good and favourable international image as an investor-friendly country and has opened its doors for investments. The government will pursue this progressive policy with renewed vigour in the next four years, by living up to its special commitments to ECOWAS, the African Union and its NEPAD programme.
At the bilateral level, the government will continue to pursue the policy of deepening and broadening the already cordial and mutually beneficial relations existing between Ghana and the United States of America. In this regard, let me take this opportunity to express our satisfaction with the strong and productive partnership between Ghana and the United States, which has encouraged many American investors to do business in Ghana. Those of you, who have visited Ghana, will attest to the fact that the country also offers numerous tourist attractions, including the yet to be explored eco-tourism potential, abundant sunshine, wonderful and pristine beaches, and world class hotels, and best of all a very friendly and hospitable people.
Ghana has enjoyed excellent cooperation from the United States government Departments, Agencies, corporate America, multilateral institutions and non-profit organizations, all of which are well represented here this evening. I salute all of you and urge you to continue to support the Embassy and Ghana so that Ghana-U.S. bilateral relations will expand to the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have a long evening ahead of us, therefore permit me, in conclusion, to request you to raise your glasses and toast to the peace, progress and prosperity of Ghana.
Thank you. Enjoy the evening.