16.09.2005 South Africa

South African High Commissioner Visits Upper East

16.09.2005 LISTEN

Bolgatanga, Sept 16, GNA - Mr Boniface Gambila, the Upper East Regional Minister, on Thursday urged Ghana's development partners to help the government to bridge the development gap between the southern part of the country and the north.

Mr Gambila said this when Mr Rapu Molekane, the South African High Commissioner in Ghana who is on an official tour of the region, paid a courtesy call on him.

He said the Upper East was one of the most disadvantaged parts of the country in terms of economic and social development, a situation exacerbated by an eight-month-long dry season each year. ''This compels most of the able-bodied young people to move to the south for want of alternative sources of livelihood.'' Mr Gambila appealed to the envoy to encourage firms and individuals from South Africa to come to the Upper East Region because it has investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, mining and light industries.

He cited livestock and irrigation development, gold mining, clay for brick and tile, handicrafts, sheabutter and groundnut oil extraction and smock weaving as other potential areas of investment.

Mr Molekane acknowledged the existence of trade gaps between Ghana and South Africa and said this should be corrected. "South Africa exports more to Ghana than she imports from her and it is in an attempt to correct this imbalance that I have come to the north to explore avenues for mutual co-operation." He said his home government was encouraging Ghana's High Commission in South Africa to promote the importation of more Ghanaian products into that country.

On continental integration, the envoy was of the view that it held great promise for Africa's economic growth.

''It will be more pragmatic to begin the process by increasing the level of co-operation between sub-regional trade blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).''

Mr Molekane cited South Africa's involvement in arbitration and conflict resolution in various parts of Africa as an indication of his country's commitment to the promotion of unity, peace and development in Africa.

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