Governments and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, on Wednesday, 25th August 2021, signed an agreement to deepen the ties of co-operation between the two territories in seven (7) specific areas of co-operation.
The areas, as contained in the agreement, include “non-governmental, not-for-profit, and private-sector organisations; diaspora organisations; religious organisations of all denominations; business corporations; local councils; educational establishments; and GIZ development agency.”
The Agreement, which was signed by Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Shirley AyorkorBotchway, and the Minister-President for North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, is guided and informed by the principles and goals set out in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
Indeed, “as part of the G20 Compact with Africa, Ghana and Germany signed a reform-oriented partnership designed to promote joint, African-style development projects involving public and private players. This partnership has provided the framework for cooperation between Ghana and North Rhine-Westphalia.”
According to the statement, “Both sides seek to intensify, at governmental and civil-service level, a dialogue that has already proven effective and productive and to foster exchanges between local communities and local-authority institutions. Both sides welcome and support cooperation between non-governmental organisations (NGOs), churches and not-for-profit organisations from both countries.”
Additionally, Ghana and North Rhine-Westphalia will support collaboration between colleges of Higher Education, particularly with regard to the universities of applied sciences and technical universities newly established by the Ghanaian government. Activities will centre on measures to enhance the organisation and profile of the new universities of applied sciences and assist in the creation of courses focusing on practice over theory.
The two sides will also consider training, the promotion of business and job creation in growth sectors to be essential fields of cooperation.
“Companies from North Rhine-Westphalia are to be notified of opportunities afforded by the Ghanaian market, whilst the benefits of collaboration with North Rhine-Westphalia are to be better advocated in Ghana. The international competitiveness of Ghanaian companies should be improved. The partnership also aims to foster discussion and mutual exchange on the subjects of entrepreneurship, start-up support and the realisation of new labour-market potential,” the statement added.
The Protection of resources and sustainable business practices remain important goals of the partnership between both sides, with the agreement stressing that “these can also be pursued and achieved as part of joint educational and training initiatives and through additional funding for social and technological innovation”.
The two sides further reiterated their commitment to “trusting cooperation when it comes to managing migration”, together with expanding their interaction in the health sector, “for instance as joint partners in a clinic initiative and by providing funding for health projects run by civil-society groups”.
On matters relating to enhancing collaboration between tax authorities of the two sides, “the sides jointly decide to continue and enhance collaboration between their tax authorities in matters relating to the decentralisation of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the steady flow of tax revenue and general good governance”.
Academy of International Affairs
Speaking at the opening of the North Rhine-Westphalia Academy for International Affairs, whose core purpose is to foster research at the highest level and promote the growth of international and interdisciplinary networks, President stated that the importance of the work to be undertaken by the Academy has been heightened by the onset of COVID-19, which has highlighted the importance of international co-operation.
“For us, in Africa, what the pandemic has taught us is that it is in the mutual interest of Africa and Europe to forge relationships that will guarantee shared prosperity for us all, as we are bound by close ties of geography and history. In as much as Africans need to move away from the mindset of dependence and aid, Europeans, likewise, must abandon the mentality of “charity to the poor Africans”, that has tended to shape their relationships with Africa”, the President said.
He continued, “The time has come for Europe and Africa to establish a sustainable, strategic partnership based on trade and investment co-operation. We have set our sights high, and, to our friends in Europe, I urge you to join us in building a continent of prosperity with equal opportunities for all, which will safeguard the environment against climate change”.
President Akufo-Addo explained that a very important plank expected from an AU-EU strategic partnership for shared prosperity would be the EU’s strong support to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), whose Secretariat Ghana is privileged to host.
With the AfCFTA linking fifty-four (54) markets, covering 1.2 billion people, into a single market, he told the gathering in Bonn that the AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itsel, adding that, by 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working age population.
“Imagine the investment and business opportunities offered by the infrastructure required to link these markets more effectively. And imagine the business opportunities that this huge market would offer for manufacturing and service firms from European countries that would establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets. And with the accelerated growth that would result from all these, the market opportunities for exporters from European countries could be truly amazing!” he added.