As we look forward to ringing in the New Year, I find myself marveling at all that has been accomplished from the partnership between Ghana and the United States. By traveling through many of the regions of Ghana, I’ve been able to see first-hand how our investment and development dollars have been well spent changing and saving lives. With your indulgence, I’d like to walk you through some highlights.
Most importantly, Ghana demonstrated its ability to resolve differences through the legal system and gracefully accept the Court’s judgment in a case of first instance resolving the 2012 Election results. On a continent where conflict rips at the very seams of nation-states such as in the South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Mali, Ghanaians time and time again uphold the value of peace and demonstrate regional leadership both within their borders and through the stellar reputation of Ghana’s contributions to peacekeeping missions.
Together, we have strengthened military capacity through the construction and commissioning of Ghana’s first National Marine Police Training Academy. In fact, we continue to work with many branches of the law enforcement sector and have completed 23 training courses in the West Africa Regional Training Center that was established this year. There’s no doubt that partnership breeds success, and we’ve seen a number of successes partnering to counter drug trafficking and secure Ghana’s maritime interests. We congratulate the Ghana Navy for its recent designation as Best Performing Navy in West Africa for 2013 by the Security Watch Africa Magazine.
We understand that job creation and economic growth are priorities for most Ghanaians, and I want to assure you that expanding trade between Ghana and the United States remains among our highest priorities. To that end, we’ve dedicated significant time and effort to encourage further private sector partnerships in Ghana. We’ve welcomed new U.S. companies to Ghana, and we have celebrated the long-term commitments and success of other companies already dedicated to building Ghana’s economic future. We’ve continued to view the role of entrepreneurship as critical to expansion of the economy and we were pleased to announce the upcoming creation of an entrepreneurship council.
In 2013, we again reaffirmed our mutual commitment to focus on key constraints to Ghana’s economic development -- access to credit and power -- by identifying tangible work plans to address challenges to both. Through Power Africa, we seek to double the number of people with access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. We recognize that a strong and vibrant civil society is vital for an inclusive, democratic governance structure. We’ve made progress through our partnerships with the media and USAID support of local governance structures and civic organizations. We’ve learned that two-way engagement occurs with an even greater number of Ghanaians through social media platforms and partnership with events such as BlogCamp 2013. We know that the majority of Ghanaians are under 30, and that’s why we seek to strengthen and empower the youth voice through President Obama’s signature program, the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.
Perhaps most memorable for me in 2013 are the times I’ve been able to see American efforts making a difference in the field. From the creativity and commitment of Peace Corps and Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers throughout Ghana to the important work our PEPFAR team does to improve lab quality and reach key populations, we are touching lives. I’ve been proud to attend school commissionings from Grumesa in the Ashanti Region to the Accra Municipal Authority. I’ve seen efforts to address the value chain in agriculture help a farmer in Wa improve yield and productivity, reach hundreds of small holder farmers working together, and increase the overall income of the farmers. These tangible benefits empower buying strength for families to secure adequate education and healthcare for their families.
We look forward to leaning forward with Ghana in the year ahead. Together we can expand economic engagement, reach mutually agreed-upon priorities in the education and health sectors, and find ways to improve governance and respect for human rights. We thank the people of Ghana for the thousands of ways you demonstrate friendship, through welcoming a Peace Corps volunteer to your community; private, religious, and educational exchanges; or simply by sharing a plate of banku. From my family to yours, we wish you happiness, health and prosperity in the coming year.
About the Author: Gene A. Cretz serves as the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.