Defence Minister Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor on Tuesday called on the US to assist stable countries in the West Africa Sub-Region to beef up their security and defence sector as a contribution to a long-term socio-economic development.
Dr Addo-Kufuor made the call when the visiting Secretary of the US Navy, Donald Winter, who is in the country to boost bilateral ties between Ghana and the US, called at the Defence Ministry at Burma Camp in Accra.
Dr Winter is responsible for the entire US Navy, as well as the formulation and implementation of Naval Policies. His visit is related to that of Admiral Henry Ulrich, Commander of the US Naval Forces in Europe, who was in Ghana to address the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Safety and Security Workshop in March.
The Minister told the US Naval Secretary that the role of the Ghana Navy was crucial to any plan for maritime domain awareness, safety and security.
He expressed appreciation to the US government for the arrival of spare parts to support repair works on the US acquired Ghana Navy ships. A US Navy ship, "USS Emory S Land" docked in Sekondi on Monday with spare parts to undertake the repairs on the Ghana Navy Ships.
The Defence Minister had in March 2006 sought the assistance of the US Government to support measures adopted by the Ghana Navy to upgrade its present fleet of ships to improve its operational capacity.
He said Ghana took the issue of maritime safety and security very seriously, because the effects of poor maritime policy could be felt in the areas of illegal fishing and poaching, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and pollution among other things.
He said the fishery industry alone absorbed about 10 per cent of the total workforce of the country and contributed about 300 million dollars annually to the economy but at the same time the country lost about 75 million dollars through illegal fishing annually.
The Dr Addo-Kufuor thanked the US Government for its assistance to refit the Ghana Navy Ships and expressed the hope that Dr Winter's visit would enable him to appreciate the efforts Ghana was making within its means and encouraged him to seek more assistance for the Ghana Navy.
Dr Winter said he would assess how the training activities between the military institutions of both countries were working and how to improve existing relations between the two institutions.