Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - Defence Minister Kwame Addo-Kufuor on Wednesday commended Government's efforts aimed at improving the operational readiness of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF). However, there was an urgent need to provide more resources to improve upon the combat readiness of the GAF, he said when he addressed the first meet-the-press series for 2006 in Accra. He said that towards this end, the Ministry was seriously exploring all avenues to become self-sustaining through peacekeeping operations in the medium-term.
Dr Addo-Kufuor said that the acquisition of a number of vehicles had greatly improved the transport situation. He said efforts were being made to acquire a few ships to augment the fleet of the Ghana Navy.
The Minister said Cabinet had recently given approval for the reactivation of the contract for the rehabilitation of the Naval Slipway in Sekondi.
The completion of the project, estimated to cost more than five million euros, would enable the Navy to refurbish its ships locally at reduced cost, provide docking facilities for Ghana naval ships and private shipping vessels as well as generate some revenue for the GAF. Dr Addo-Kufuor said negotiations with the French Government were far advanced for assistance towards the acquisition of new aircraft and refurbishment of existing ones.
He said contacts had been made with the Chinese and Russian Governments for support to augment the capacity of the Ghana Air force. On the way forward for the GAF, he said it was Government's intention to fully engage the military as a serious development partner in its efforts at wealth creation and providing for the needs of Ghanaians.
In this regard, the capabilities of the Engineer Regiment of the GAF would be strengthened for it to focus on four areas of socio-economic development - feeder road construction, reforestation, low-cost housing and bridge construction.
The Minister said that under the feeder roa d and bridge construction, the GAF would assist to open up inaccessible areas of the country particularly in the Afram Plains and Sefwi areas to facilitate the movement of agricultural produce from the farm gates to the market centres.
He cited the recent tarring of the Tema Oil Refinery roads as an indication of the ability of the GAF to undertake such projects at competitive prices.
Dr Addo-Kufuor said in furtherance of GAF's bid to become a professionally oriented force, the resources of the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping and Training Centre and the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College would be combined to establish the Ghana Defence College for strategic studies for higher command. The College would train top-level management personnel from the military, other security services, the civil service and the diplomatic corps, improve the analytical skills and knowledge of participants and prepare them for higher responsibilities in military and civil appointments in national and international assignments, as is done in some developed countries.
Dr Addo-Kufuor said it was the intention of the Ministry to make sure that Ghana remained a peaceful, stable and a rapidly developing country. 18 Jan. 06