President John Agyekum Kufuor has called for closer and deeper partnership with Japan to promote Ghana as the hub for finance, industry and commerce to Africa and the global market.
Ghana, he said, was determined to join the league of famed "little economic tigers of the emerging world" but noted that, to be able to achieve this, it would need critical push through increased aid, technical assistance and credit to micro, small and medium enterprises as well as long-term loans for infrastructure development. President Kufuor was speaking at a dinner in honour of the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Junichiro Koizumi, at the Accra International Conference Centre on Tuesday.
The Japanese Premier who is on a three-day visit to Ghana had earlier visited the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where he laid a wreath on the tomb of the late Dr Hideyo Noguchi, a Japanese Bacteriologist and Pathologist, who died in Accra in 1928 of yellow fever, a disease he was researching.
President Kufuor stated that the partnership he was proposing "will make for the spread of peace and prosperity on the beleaguered African Continent".
He noted that, "Japan continues to be a great benefactor of Ghana," and mentioned the host of bilateral arrangements between the two nations, including the conversion of a Japanese loan of 80 million dollars into a grant for the construction of the Kasoa/Yamoransa road. President Kufuor also mentioned scholarships for Ghanaians to study in Japanese institutions and the invaluable services of young Japanese Volunteers including science, mathematics and technology teachers. He expressed gratitude to Mr Koizumi and the people of Japan and recalled the writing off of a one-billion-dollar debt when Ghana achieved the HIPC completion point.
Japan also played a leading role in the G-8, which listed Ghana among 18 countries to benefit from 100 percent debt cancellation, by multi-lateral creditors.
President Kufuor noted that through the Tokyo International Conference on Africa's Development (TICAD), an initiative launched as far back as 1993, Japan's contribution in creating global awareness about the problems of Africa.
Ghana-Japan relations goes back, beginning with medical research into yellow fever by Dr Noguchi, who has been immortalised with the naming of a research institute of the University of Ghana after him. Ghana is proud of the Institute, the output of which is benefiting the world of scientific knowledge in general, President Kufuor said. He extended a special invitation to Mr Koizumi to attend the Golden Jubilee of Ghana's independence next year.
The Japanese Prime Minister accompanied by a 121-member delegation including businessmen was in Ghana the only country on the continent after going to the African Union, in Ethiopia.