Gaborone, May 5, GNA - Vice President Aliu Mahama has urged Ghanaians resident in the Southern Africa country of Botswana to maintain the good image of Ghana during their sojourn while they planned for their eventual return to their motherland to invest their expertise and resources towards its development.
"We are very proud of you," he told members of the Ghanaian Community at a reception in Gaborone.
"The President of Botswana and other high ranking members of his government have given excellent testimonials about you. Endeavour to sustain your high reputation, make the best from your stay and plan towards investing your rich experiences and resources on your return home."
He said it was pleasing that Africans were utilising the expertise of their fellows and the trend needed to be encouraged.
Mrs Julia Sarkodie-Mensah, Ghana's Honorary Consul in Gaborone, hosted the reception to afford the Vice President, who is in Botswana to participate if the Ghana-Botswana Exposition 2005, the opportunity to interact with his compatriots.
Vice President Mahama also commended them for their remittances to their families home, saying such contributions aided the the country's social and economic progress. He briefed them about the Kufuor Administration's development agenda, such as prioritising human development to accelerate socio-economic advancement and the deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector to free State resources for investments in social services.
He also briefed them about recent political events like the Asawase Constituency by-elections and the "Wahala" demonstrations, saying they demonstrated the Administration's commitment to make the citizenry exercise their freedoms without fear of victimisation.
Vice President Mahama explained that some of the decisions made towards sustainable economic growth were hard but necessary to make the country economically vibrant for the future well-being of all.
"The situation called for radical changes if we had to make it better," he stated. "For instance, the subsidy on the petroleum sector between October and December exceeded the budgetary allocation to tertiary education."
He also answered questions on infrastructural development, education, transportation and other areas of the economy. Mrs. Maureen Amematekpor, Ghana's High Commissioner in Namibia, accredited to Botswana said the time had come for Ghana to transform its excellent diplomatic ties with Botswana into a fruitful trade and investments relationship and urged them to contribute towards the process.
In an interview with the GNA, Mr Solomon Opare-Kumi, President of the Community, said Botswana had been warm to them, therefore, members of the Community would continue to reciprocate the hospitality by being good citizens.
He said they would also contribute their part to ensure that the countries exchanged human, technical and capital resources, adding, that they were supporting the four-day trade and investment fair to successfully marry the productive sectors of the two countries.
There are about 2,000 Ghanaians resident in Botswana, which has a population of about 1.6 million people. Most of them are professionals, especially teachers, engineers and lawyers. The country, which is the world's biggest producer of diamonds and the largest exporter of beef to the European Union market, recorded a GDP per capita income of 9,200 dollars last year.