Mar 4- 2023
STATEMENT BY THE GHANA HIGH COMMISSION ON THE OCASSION OF THE 66TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA ON MONDAY, 6TH MARCH, 2023
On this auspicious occasion of the 66th Independence Anniversary of Ghana, which is being celebrated under the theme: "Our Unity-Our-Strength-Our- Purpose", it is our honour and privilege to extend to you warm felicitations from his Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana and the entire staff of the Ghana High Commission in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Independence Day celebrations, the world over, are indeed memorable occasions since each marks an important milestone in the history of the country. For Ghana, it represents our determination 66 years ago to free ourselves from colonial rule, and progress through self-rule to prosperity and development. Indeed, as the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence, we not only became pacesetters for others wishing to free themselves from the shackles of colonialism throughout the continent but also motivated others who had hitherto thought that self-determination was out of reach, to yearn for it. Therefore, on this special occasion, we pay homage to our founding fathers, who laid down their lives for the independence struggle.
Ghana, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world was on the path to improving the standard of living of its people until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. External factors such as the disruption of both the global supply chain and financial systems resulted in high food and fuel prices as well as the depreciation of the cedi. This situation has among other things, contributed immensely to the derailment of our enviable national progress and resulted in the current harsh economic condition.
The government of Ghana recognises the challenges and therefore maintains its unwavering commitment to implementing measures needed to infuse financial stability and discipline into the management of the Ghanaian economy. This end can only be achieved through the collective effort of you and me. Hence, the theme for the 66th Independence Anniversary “Our Unity-Our-Strength-Our-Purpose" could not have come at a better time. Indeed, in these hard times, it behoves us to stay united, for in unity is strength. There is no doubt that unity and hard work will not only enable Ghana to bounce back from its current economic predicament but will also result in the achievement of many more of its economic objectives, all of which are aimed at building a robust economy for the benefit of Ghanaians. The collective creation of a prosperous nation will therefore establish Ghana's position as the shining star of Africa. It is therefore our sincere expectation that with our collective hard work, we will achieve the needed economic growth to enable us to celebrate our next National Day with a reception, as has been the practice.
Prior to the onset of Ghana's current challenges, the government had successfully instituted many flagship projects, many of which are aimed at human capital development and youth empowerment. Chief among them is the Free Senior High School (FSHS) policy, which provides compulsory education from Kindergarten through Junior Secondary School to Senior High School. This, however, has continued unabated, enabling many children who otherwise would have been deprived of quality education - for many reasons, chief among them being lack of funds and the unavailability of schools - to gain admission into senior secondary schools across the country. This laudable initiative by the government has from 2017 to date, benefitted over 1.6 million schoolchildren.
The Government's One-District-One-Factory initiative, which was rolled out in 2017 to create jobs for Ghanaians through the setting up of factories and industries in each district of Ghana was expected to increase agricultural and manufacturing output, reduce the country's reliance on imported goods and ensure food availability has witnessed the creation of 232 projects, 76 companies, 28 new green factories and resuscitated 48 existing factories. Ghana now processes most of its cocoa beans, which until recently, were exported raw, for value addition and the provision of jobs. Similarly, the majority of our minerals in the extractive industry are processed.
The Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) policy, which seeks to modernise the agricultural sector of the economy to improve food security; create employment opportunities; and reduce poverty was set up among other things to ensure immediate and adequate availability of selected food commodities, provide job opportunities for the unemployed youth in the agricultural and allied sectors.
To significantly reduce youth unemployment, the Nation Builders Corp (NABCO) programme, which the current government set up to address graduate unemployment and solved social problems, especially in the area of public service delivery in health, education, agriculture, governance, and revenue mobilisation and collection has temporarily created over 100,000 jobs.
Ghana and Sierra Leone are bound by historical ties, which date back nearly two centuries. Many Ghanaians, who first obtained higher education in the then Gold Coast were educated at the famous Fourah Bay College in Freetown, the first western-style university built in Sub-Saharan Africa and, founded in 1827. One such person was Joseph Casely Hayford, a founding member of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society in the then Gold Coast, the first Ghanaian nationalist Organisation. Together with others, they founded in 1920, the National Congress of British West Africa, which brought together nationalists from the British colonies of The Gambia, Nigeria, Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, to work together towards securing the liberation of the respective countries from colonial rule. Wallace Akunor Johnson, the famous Sierra Leonean journalist, who lived and worked in the then Gold Coast in the 1930s, was also one of the luminaries of the organisation.
The relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone have remained strong since the post-independence era. Ghana nevertheless seeks to further strengthen its bonds of friendship and cooperation with Sierra Leone. Ghanaian troops were deployed to help consolidate the peace and stability of Sierra Leone soon after the unfortunate civil war in 2002.
The government of Ghana mobilised and presented to the government of Sierra Leone, relief items worth US$ 1 million and a cash donation of US$120,000 for the upkeep of the victims of the mudslide, which occurred in Freetown in August, 2017. Ghana also contributed in kind to the development of the Sierra Leonean health sector by building the professional capacity of fifty (50) health personnel from Sierra Leone in 2018. A few years ago, Ghanaian nationals resident in Sierra Leone donated some medical supplies to the Ola During Children's Hospital, 6,000 exercise books and 1,500 mathematical sets to government basic schools. They also renovated a 6-unit classroom block and supplied over 200 tables and chairs to Wilberforce Village Government School, among others.
The two countries have also supported each other's candidacy in the international arena, culminating in some Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean citizen occupying top positions in major International Organisations. Ghana has contributed in various ways to the human capacity development policies of the Government of Sierra Leone. It has provided expertise in various fields, notably health care and education. The two countries have also enjoyed successful military collaboration over the years. This has resulted in the yearly training and capacity building of personnel from the Sierra Leone Armed Forces at the Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Training Centre in Accra. The two countries are also engaged in discussions to map out the modalities for cooperation in the field of downstream petroleum regulation.
The foregoing notwithstanding, there is much to be accomplished with respect to trade relations between the two countries, given the existing low trade volumes between the two countries. There is, therefore, the need for both countries to intensify their efforts to improve their trade relations. On this note, the private sectors of both countries are reminded of the huge opportunities available under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) agreement to export their products duty-free to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as to the rest of the continent.
There is no doubt that peace and stability is a pre-requisite for economic growth and social cohesion in any country. We also believe that the peace and stability of Ghana are interlinked with the security of its neighbours and can only be guaranteed if its neighbours within the West African sub-region are stable and at peace with each other. There is, therefore, the need for all and sundry to ensure that this beautiful country continues to sustain its peace and political stability so as to accelerate its development.
It is therefore our earnest hope that as Sierra Leoneans prepare to go to the polls on 24th June, 2023 to elect leaders for the next 5 years, they will experience peaceful elections, devoid of violence and record results that will be acceptable to all the contesting political parties.
As we celebrate our 66th independence anniversary, we trust that the existing bilateral relations between Ghana and Sierra Leone will be further strengthened. In addition, we hope that all Ghanaians resident in Sierra Leone will continue to play their part in the development of their homeland in the interest of their peace and prosperity.
Long live Ghana, long live Sierra Leone!!!
Happy Independence Day Anniversary to all our compatriots!