From Beatrice Akua Asamani, GNA Special Correspondent, Gaborone
Gaborone, May 4, GNA - Ghana's Vice President, Aliu Mahama, on Wednesday opened the Ghana-Botswana Exposition 2005 with a call on Africans to undertake joint investment and research projects for the processing of their natural resources as a means of reducing widespread poverty. The Vice President noted that Africa's efforts at fighting severe poverty, under-development and diseases hardly succeed unless it processed its raw materials to halt the over-reliance on foreign goods. A vibrant manufacturing economy, he stressed, would also strengthen intra-African trade and increase the continent's share of global trade, which is only about one per cent.
Vice President Mahama, therefore, called for the continuous creation of platforms such as the fair, to forge the requisite linkages and relationships for mutually beneficial trade and investments projects.
Organised by the Honorary Consul of Ghana in Gaborone, Ms Julia Sarkodie-Mensah, with the assistance of both the Governments of Ghana and Botswana, the fair aims at creating partnerships between the private sectors of the countries for trade and investments purposes and deepening bilateral and cultural ties.
It also seeks to build a pragmatic relationship between the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), which Ghana belongs to with its South African counterpart, the South African Development Community (SADC) of which Botswana is a member.
Vice President Mahama stated: "It is on record that Africa's share of global trade is the least and the apparent implication is that the huge volumes our resources exported our priced cheaply. Our economic status can, therefore, hardly change if we continue to contribute to the perpetuation of the economic structure existing today.
"While Ghana and Botswana are major suppliers of some of these resources, we should take the opportunity to share ideas, develop new products and create markets as part of the needed efforts to change the destiny of generations yet unborn and break the cycle of poverty." The two countries, which have enjoyed long years of good diplomatic relations have a shared commitment towards attracting foreign direct investments, implementing sound financial policies towards high economic growth and entrenching good and democratic governance.
Botswana, the world's biggest diamond producer with a per capita GDP of 9,200 dollars (2004) could invest in Ghana's vast agricultural sector for its agro-based needs. Botswana has only 0.65 per cent arable land, whereas Ghana has 57 per cent arable land with agriculture being the main stay of the economy. Its per capita income is a little over 400 dollars.
However, Ghana could also benefit from the expertise of Botswana in livestock production. It is the largest exporter of beef to the European Union market.
Both countries have developed aggressive programmes to increase their earnings from tourism, minerals production, textiles and garments. Botswana's Minster of Trade, Mr Neo Moroka, said in a speech read for him that Africans would have a greater influence in global trade if they united their efforts and improved upon inward in-trading in line with the goals of NEPAD.
The Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Duncan Senyato Group entertained the audience, which included Ms Gladys Korkowe, Botswana's Deputy Speaker of Parliament, with cultural dances from Ghana and Botswana respectively.