Lundi 22 Avril 2019  

N°124 - Quatrième trimestre 2018

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  S.E.M. / H.E. Albert Owusu-Sarpong

«A Functioning Democracy, a Performing Economy»
As Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary as an independent country, President John Agyekum Kufuor can pride himself on firmly anchoring good governance practices and rekindling a dynamic economy. These forward strides have bolstered the Ghanaian president’s footing as the Chairman of the African Union, as underscored by H.E. Prof. Albert Owusu-Sarpong, the Ambassador of Ghana to France. 
The Diplomatic Letter: Mr. Ambassador, on 6 March 2007 Ghana celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Could you describe the advances made by your country since 1957? What remains of the heritage bequeathed to Ghana by Dr. Kwame Nkruma? The African Union Summit, held in Accra on 1-3 July, laid special focus on the Pan African movement. Could you outline its major goals for our readers?

H.E.Prof. Albert Owusu-Sarpong:
The road that has been covered since 1957 has been tortuous, even sometimes difficult but, by and large, positive.
From the concept of a continental Government that Doctor Kwame Nkrumah bequeathed to Ghana and to Africa, there remains virtually nothing.
The African Union Summit which took place in Accra from the 1st to the 3rd July, 2007 endeavoured to promote the most realistic ambitions of the African Union: improvement of National economies, encouraging Nations to embrace good governance and the respect for Human Rights, African regional and intercontinental integration – all this with the view to allowing Africa to meet the challenges imposed by globalization.

T.D.L.: The election of John Agyekum Kufuor as President of Ghana in 2001, and his reelection on 7 December 2004, firmly anchored the democratization process launched in 1992. With his second term set to end in just under two years, could you tell us what President Kufuor has accomplished and describe the key challenges the new generation of Ghanaian leaders will have to face?

A functioning democracy, a performing economy which has recorded an annual growth rate of 6%. From my point of view, the new generation of Ghanaian politicians will have to take inspiration from the economic and political success story recorded by Ghana since 1992 by further modernizing the economy of the country, namely, by integrating the general movement of the country into benchmarks that are indubitably global.

T.D.L. : Ghana was the first country to agree to submit to the Peer Review Mechanism (PRM) that is a crucial feature of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Has your country made progress in establishing good governance, in particular in the battle to curb corruption? As the Chairman of the African Union, is President Kufuor focusing on any special areas to help bolster NEPAD?

To agree to submit to the Peer Review Mechanism within the framework of NEPAD means that Ghana has decided, in all freedom, to mop up its own house.
But accepting to put its own house in order through the struggle against corruption and through the Peer-Review Mechanism, Ghana has admitted that its neighbours can and indeed may evaluate its progress on democracy and good governance.
President Kufuor in his capacity as Chairman of the African Union wishes that other aspects of NEPAD be given all the impact that is clearly theirs.

T.D.L.: Your country’s financial partners have praised the soundness of the Ghanaian economy, which grew 6.2% in 2006. Could you outline the goals of the Joint Strategy of Assistance (G-JAS) signed on March 1st of this year by the key donors to Ghana? How is the government going to cut the public deficit, the only sore spot in your country’s macro-economic stability?

The Joint Strategy of Assistance ought to allow my country to further step up its economic growth.
The Government has an imperative duty of resisting public spending after having achieved macro-economic stability.

T.D.L.: The former Gold Coast is the world’s second cocoa producer and Africa’s second gold producer, but is still dependent on imported energy. Could you explain what prompted the current energy crisis in your country and tell us what is being done to resolve it? Could greater foreign investment help to develop sectors other than the mining industries, which continue to attract most of these funds?

The energy crisis that Ghana is experiencing at the moment can be explained away historically: Since the time of Independence, our leaders did privilege hydroelectric sources of energy, to the detriment of other sources.
And it is known that weather considerations are a crucial factor on any energy policy based on hydroelectricity.
Ghana will have to explore other avenues, notably solar. Besides, the promotion of private and foreign investment in the services (banking and in communications) is henceforth a sine qua non condition for the Kufuor Government.    

T.D.L.: Ghana has made great strides in improving education and reducing unemployment, yet the “brain drain” remains a major problem for your country. Are Ghanaian authorities taking steps to reverse this trend? Could you draw the broad lines of the program to reform Ghana’s education system?

The “evaporation of brains” as I used to say to my students who were waiting to finish their tertiary education in Ghana to jump on to the western El dorado….
A huge problem without doubt and which the Government of Ghana has to face squarely; and if you also take into account the fact that for 2006, the remittances which these “drained brains” sent to their families in Ghana totalled 6 billion US dollars, the problem for my country becomes titanic.
Be that as it may, the Government has accepted to implement a recommendation with effect from next September for a new American-style system of education at the secondary level: Junior High School, Senior High School, before specializing at the University level in Agronomy, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Liberal Studies and the Humanities.

T.D.L.: As the Chairman of the African Union, President John Agyekum Kufuor has had to step up and manage a number of crises on the continent. What direction does he plan to take on Darfur, to bring this tragedy to an end? Does the African Union have a role to play in the resolution of the crisis in Somalia?

The political crises within Ghana’s neighbourhood (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire) have brought out the finer qualities of President KUFUOR as a negotiator.
The President’s international prestige and the confidence that donors have in him will allow the President of the African Union to successfully manage the crises in Darfur and in Somalia.

T.D.L.: While Côte d’Ivoire seems headed towards renewed stability, West Africa is still being roiled by the political crises in Guinea and Togo. How can your country help to calm the ongoing tensions in the region?

Contrary to the Côte d’Ivoire, where men vying for power came face to face manu militari, Togo and Guinea have known constitutional crises or crises of legitimacy or of succession.
Through the institutions of ECOWAS, President Kufuor and his West African counterparts have worked for the return of National Peace in Togo with the election and the investiture of President Faure Nyassingbe and in Guinea with the appointment of a Prime Minister of consensus Kouyate who will manage, we hope, ab imo pectore, to lead the Guinea vessel of State to anchor.

T.D.L. : The region’s English- and Portuguese-speaking countries will join forces in a new monetary union before the close of 2009, with the launching of a new currency called the “eco.” What are the advantages of this regional initiative, when Ghana just introduced a new cedi? Could you outline the next steps in the West African economic integration process?

The introduction of a new Ghanaian cedi is in the first place an anti-inflationist measure: to reduce the volume of money in circulation before the introduction of a new regional currency: the Eco.
This initiative, like the European CECA, is to lay the foundations of a major African market which is first of all regional and incidentally continental.

T.D.L.: Ghana has long had strong ties with European countries. Now the United States, and especially China and Japan, are considerably enhancing their presence in your country and the whole of Africa. Do you think the arrival of these new actors will foster your country’s development? Africa’s share of the international market has been steadily shrinking. Could these new outlets help reverse that trend?

The interest of China in Africa is not a bad thing in itself, even if I am not entirely for replacing one form of paternalism/imperialism by another form: historically, culturally and geographically, Africa is anchored in the West. By enlarging Europe to include central-Europe, the European Union ought to think also of the millions of Africans who are assimilated by Western cultures.
So that, Africa says yes to China and to Japan on condition that Europe takes its place vis à vis our continent; by that I mean all the role which devolves on Europe when it comes to Africa’s destiny.
That is why my colleagues, the African Ambassadors on posting in Paris never stop reiterating this idea to our European interlocutors and thereby remind me of a 16th century French writer Boileau: “for a thousand times, visit and revisit your work. Polish and re-polish on and on.”

T.D.L.: During a state visit to the United Kingdom this past March, President Kufuor agreed to a 10-year joint development plan. How would you describe Ghana-British relations 50 years after your country claimed independence? What does Ghana gain by belonging to the Commonwealth?

Ghana is, at once, a member of the British Commonwealth and an Associate member of the International Organization of the Francophonie, where I sit as the Personal Representative of my President.
Some French Companies are very active in Ghana as I talk to you (notably Compagnie Fruitière, Société Générale, Sagem, Alcatel…) – all in an effort to push the Ghanaian economy forward.
Great Britain, former metropolis of Ghana, has its place in Ghana like China and Japan.
Henceforth, when it comes to International Trade and Commerce, we will have to talk about Nations all united in the quest at a common destiny.
T.D.L.: In July 2006, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by the British, President Kufuor opened a new slavery research center in the UK: the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation. Where do you stand on the debate over restitution for peoples enslaved by former colonial powers?

As soon as peoples and nations do their historical duty (like the decree of 1848 proposed by Victor Schoelcher and abolishing the slave trade in the French colonies, the recent legislation proposed in the French Parliament by Christiane Taubira, a parliamentarian from Guadeloupe, classifying slavery as a crime against humanity, the action of William Wilberforce for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies), pardon and universal reconciliation should be given a chance.
That is why, I believe, Aimé Cesaire asked once: “On balance, what is negritude if it is not an aggressive expression of fraternity?”

T.D.L.: Ghana was elected to sit on the United Nations Human Rights Council until 2008. Does it plan to use this new UN body to draw attention to the human rights problems on the African continent, particularly in Zimbabwe? On a broader level, where do you stand on the issue of United Nations reform?

The seat that has come to my country on the Council of Human Rights is a consecration of Ghana’s reputation in this domain. For us, a Government which bludgeons its citizens is a moribund Government wherever it can be found.
However, for countries like Ghana to have the moral authority to expose the inadequacies of authoritarian regimes, the reform of the United Nations is most welcome.
The realities of 1945 are no longer those of today. The representation of emerging countries on the Security Council of the United Nation (China, Brazil and Africa) is henceforth a cardinal requirement for the International Organization. Let us act in such a way that the balance of power in the world is reflected by the organ which is the most representative of our world today.

T.D.L.: President Kufuor is determined to enhance cooperation between our two countries, as witnessed by his attendance at France-Africa Summit this past February. Does France have a place in Ghana, in terms of both bilateral cooperation and trade partnerships?

I believe I have answered this question, even if partially, by my answer in question 2 supra.
France has a place in Ghana with its high-performance technology which is beyond reproach (TGV, Airbus A380) and with Ghanaian leaders enamoured of your country, your manners and your culture.

T.D.L.: As the holder of a Doctorate in French from the University of Strasbourg, and a great fan of French culture, you must feel closely concerned by Ghana’s bid to join the International Organization of the Francophonie. Does the Francophone movement have a contribution to bring to your country?

Can I make a confession? When the President decided to appoint me as Ghana’s Ambassador to France, a number of my country-men said to him: «Fine, fine about this appointment! But is this appointment going to be an appointment for Ghana or an appointment for France?”
The President relates this anecdote often hilariously and I believe that it summarizes all his confidence in my education in France, my family in France, my attachment for your country. Everything, and that would be my final world, ought to facilitate a symbiosis between my country and France.
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