President John Agyekum Kufuor has stated that the economy should take centre stage of Ghana' development agenda after 50 years of nation building. This is the surest way for the people to overcome poverty, diseases, illiteracy and hunger among other problems.
"The policies, programmes and plans of our first 50 years as a sovereign country were directed primarily at nation-building. Those of the next half-century, which will commence in March 2007, should concentrate on the economy to achieve sustained and lasting prosperity for this country", he stated.
President Kufuor was opening the Techno-Economic Approach for Africa India Movement (Team-9) Ministerial Meeting and Business Conclave in Accra yesterday.
The Team-9 concept envisages a special co-operation model among some African Countries including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal and India to promote economic growth and prosperity of Africa. Foreign Ministers, government officials and private sector business operators from the nine countries are attending the meeting.
President Kufuor said he was happy that over the past five years, the Government had stabilised the economy on a firm foundation for a giant take off, to propel it to a middle-income level within the next decade. He said the economic successes achieved, was attracting global attention leading to increased local and foreign investments.
"In this respect, let me say that India's contribution is growing by leaps and bounds at both governmental and business levels. Currently, India is the second largest investor in the Ghanaian economy, with 491 businesses, a sharp increase form the 143 in 2003."
President Kufuor expressed the hope that the trend would be sustained and urged the Indian delegates to form productive partnerships with their Ghanaian counterparts. "It is my expectation that the deliberations of this meeting will pave the way for further co-operation, on a win-win basis between India and all the Team-9 member countries".
He observed that the objectives and benefits of the conclave underscored the great potential of South-South Co-operation in addressing most of the needs of developing nations especially those in Africa.
Besides, it fitted well into the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which the world, particularly the Group of Eight Industrialised Nations (G-8), was increasingly acknowledging as a pragmatic framework for the development of Africa.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Foreign Minister Regional Integration and NEPAD, stated that deepening South-South co-operation should not only be Governmental but the private sector as well. He promised that Ghana's public sector would give every support to partnership arrangements by the business delegations at the conclave.
The Foreign Minister noted that Team-9, although relatively young, had chalked concrete achievements, citing a number of development projects implemented through India's on-line credit to African countries.
In Ghana, he mentioned the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Centre, which was strengthening the Information Communication Technology (ICT) base of the country, the 60-million-dollar concessionary loan, for the construction of the Presidential Palace and the extension of rural electricity with Indian assistance as some of the benefits of the co-operation.
Nana Akufo-Addo noted that trade between Ghana and India tilted in the latter's favour and urged Ghanaian exporters to add more value to their export to that country. He said if the nation was to achieve its vision of middle-income status, there was the need "to put industry to the full".
Mr Anand Sharma, Indian External Affairs Minister, said his country's delegation was at the meeting to listen to understand the development priorities and challenges facing African countries so that together they work to create successful partnership.
"We owe it to our great forefathers and to our future generations, to continue on the path that our shared destiny has chosen for us." He said India had watched with admiration the steady progress Africa was making on the path of democracy, good governance and sustained equitable economic growth.