November 18, 2016

In a joint statement issued during President Sh. Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Accra in June 2016, both the countries agreed to fight against terrorism and propel capacity building and human resource development.

By Jhumki Dutta

Legacy of colonial past and synergy of political ideology, post – Independence, built a formidable partnership between Ghana and India during the late 1950’s and early 60’s. The foundation for this relationship was laid by India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, and Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, whose common rejection of hegemonic powers and opposition to bloc politics shaped the world order during the Cold War. To rebuild and revive this relationship,Ghana is currently also a part of the government’s strategy of “outreach for Africa” that aims to develop further collaborations with the countries in the African Continent.Taking this forward, in a joint statement issued by both the countries, during President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Accra in June 2016, the leaders have agreed to fight against terrorism and propel capacity building and human resource development.

Politically, the common position of the two countries on matters of regional and global concern has brought them closer. Exchange of high level delegation has contributed to further the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Some notable visits from Ghana include that by of President Nkrumah in 1961, President Limann in 1981, President Rawlings in 1997, President Kufuor in August 2002 and 2008, Vice President John DramaniMahama in 2010 and Vice President KwesiBekoeAmissah-Arthur in 2014. During Prime Minister P. V. NarasimhaRao in 1995, an agreement to form the Joint Commission between India and Ghana was signed. Several other ministerial and diplomatic visits led to extension of bilateral relations in other realms. The two countries have further signed four bilateral agreements including one which relates to the setting up of a Centre of Excellence for Training in Information Technology in Accra (which became operational in December 2003); and Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA); Protocol on Consultations between MEA and Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and a Cultural and Scientific Exchange Programme.

Economically, the relations between the two countries have strengthened due to the enhanced South-South cooperation efforts. Ghana was also included as one of the nine West African countries under the GOI’s TEAM-9 (Techno-Economic Approach for African Movement) initiative launched in 2004, which aims to provide support and cooperation in technical and economic spheres in a mutually beneficial manner. India is the second largest foreign investor in the country, with Indian companies having invested US$ 998 million between September 1994 and September 2014 in 600 projects. With regard to the two way trade, while Ghana’s exports gold, cocoa and timber products, India exports pharmaceuticals, telecommunication, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, plastics, steel, cement etc. The trade in 2014-2015 was valued at US$1623.81 million. Visit by multi-sectoral business delegation during partnership events and collaboration between Indian and Ghanaian business associations like FICCI and CII and Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre have further strengthened the business and trading relations. To exchange and share knowledge on trade and business, management institutes like Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT), New Delhi in collaboration with Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) conducted Executive Workshop in Accra in 2015. Ghana has also been a beneficiary of India’s assistance in human resource development in developing countries through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC). It utilized 242 ITEC slots in the FY 2014-15 and 42 slots under various other schemes, including ICCR scholarships and capacity building courses offered by IIFT and IAFS Plan of Action.

India also supports developmental activities in Ghana through provision of Lines of Credit (LOC) amounting to US$ 230 million for various developmental projects including the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence for ICT; the Flag Staff House; the Pan African E-Network Project, Rural Electrification Project and Procurement of Fire-tenders, being undertaken in the country. In 2013 and 2014, the government of Ghana initiated the US$ 21 million Fish Processing Plant at Elmina and US$ 36.5 million (LOC of US$ 35 million) Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region of Ghana respectively, with India’s support. India has also committed US$ 24.5 million for the development of sugarcane development and irrigation project under this scheme. In 2016, India also extended a further grant assistance of $1 million to the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, set up with Indian assistance of $2.86 million.

Cultural connect between the two countries is enriched due to the visits by cultural groups during various events and film screening. Indian festivals like Diwali and the International Yoga Day are celebrated with great zeal in the country. The Indian community, comprising of over 10,000 people of Indian origin, contribute both culturally and economically in the country. Ghanaian schools and educational institutions have made efforts to introduce the Indian origin children to India and its government systems. During the celebrations of the Constitution Day (26th November) on 28th November 2015, a lecture was delivered on salient features of the Constitution of India to a group of Indian origin children, who then read out the Preamble.

While, having connected with each other economically, politically and culturally that drives mutual development, the two countries are currently caught by the scourge of terrorism. India has for decades been the victim of cross-border terrorism, while Ghana situated in West Africa, is facing threats from ISIS and Boko Haram terrorists who have established their presence in the neighbouring countries. Terrorism, while on one hand has the ability of crippling all developmental efforts, on the other it gives an opportune moment for the two countries to converge and cooperate with each other for greater security and peace. The way forward for this relationship lies in their joint strategy to defeat the menace of terrorism and work to develop a mutually beneficial road map aimed at growth and progress.

(The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Indiafrica Today)