From: Beatrice Akua Asamani, GNA Special Correspondent, Dakar
Dakar (Senegal), April 5, GNA - Ghana has elevated its diplomatic relations with Senegal to the highest level following the commissioning of her Embassy in the capital, Dakar.
Vice President Aliu Mahama and Foreign Affairs Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo jointly performed the inaugural event, after representing Ghana at Senegal's 45th Independence Anniversary celebration on Monday.
The Embassy, headed by Mr Fred Amartey Laryea, with a permanent staff of five, would also serve The Gambia and eventually Cape Verde. Nana Akufo-Addo said the re-opening of the mission would boost the collaboration of the leadership of the two countries in their common efforts to promote good governance, eliminate mass poverty and conflicts in their immediate societies and on the Continent.
"We deem it extremely important to open our mission at this time when the camaraderie between our two visionary leaders is excellent and our economy has seen significant improvement," he said. Nana Akufo-Addo said President John Agyekum Kufuor and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who both ascended the Presidency after long years in opposition, had become leading lights in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Africa as champions of liberal democratic governance, peace, reconciliation, justice and unity for all Africans.
Ghana's Embassy in Dakar, first established when Senegal gained independence in 1960, was closed down with others in the 1980s when Ghana experienced an economic downturn.
The bilateral relations were, however, maintained with a representation of an honorary Consular, who was de-commissioned last February.
The Foreign Affairs Minister advised the Ambassador, Mr Laryea to use his rich experiences as the secretary-general of the African Development Bank to strengthen the cordial relations between both countries and to best serve the interest of the Ghanaian community. However, Nana Akufo-Addo noted, the best ambassadors should be Ghanaians resident in Senegal and, therefore, told the people who turned out in their numbers to witness the event to be law-abiding citizens and to hold high the flag of Ghana.
In an interview with the GNA, Mr Laryea said his immediate priorities were to encourage Ghanaians to organise into formidable groups for registration, maintain a positive image for Ghana and to seek closer economic collaboration, especially in the tourism and wood sectors.
"We have common relics that depict the slave trade. Therefore, we can form a circuit which would encourage tourists to visit both the Goree Islands in Senegal and our slave castles for our mutual benefits," he said.
Mr Laryea noted that Senegalese had a high regard for Ghanaians as hard-working and peaceful people, and Ghanaians could also learn from the patriotism and ingenuity of Senegalese.
Senegal, with a population of nearly 11 million, is said to be thriving economically with 2004 GDP growth of 6.4 per cent, said to be the highest recorded in ECOWAS.
Its main exports are fish, phosphate and groundnuts complemented by significant revenue from tourism.
The Foreign Affairs Minster of Senegal, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio attended the ceremony.