Ghana and the North Rhine-Westphalia State of Germany have signed an agreement to deepen the ties between the two in seven areas of co-operation.
The agreement covers non-governmental, not-for-profit and private-sector organisations, diasporan organisations, religious organisations of all denominations, business corporations, local councils, educational establishments and the GIZ development agency.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, initialled it for Ghana, while the Minister-President for North Rhine-Westphalia, Armin Laschet, signed for the German industrial state.
The agreements are guided by the principles and goals set out in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
The agreement stated that “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”.
“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,” it added.
Under the agreement, Ghana and North Rhine-Westphalia will support collaboration between colleges of higher education, particularly universities of applied sciences and technical universities.
The 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, promotion of business and job creation in growth sectors to be essential fields of cooperation.
With the agreement, companies from North Rhine-Westphalia are to be notified of opportunities in the Ghanaian market, while the benefits of collaboration with North Rhine-Westphalia are to be better advocated in Ghana.
Besides, 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,” a statement accompanying the agreement said.
In addition, it noted that the protection of resources and sustainable business practices remained important goals of the partnership between both sides.
“These can also be pursued and achieved as part of joint educational and training initiatives and through additional funding for social and technological innovation,” it said.
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
At the opening of the North Rhine-Westphalia Academy for International Affairs, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the importance of the work to be undertaken by the academy had been heightened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had highlighted the importance of international cooperation.
He said another lesson from the pandemic was that Africa and Europe must forge relationships that would guarantee shared prosperity for all because they were 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 had tended to shape their relationships with Africa,” the President said.
He said it was high time the two continents established a sustainable, strategic partnership based on trade and investment co-operation, adding: “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) agreement, whose secretariat Ghana was privileged to host.
With the AfCFTA linking 54 markets, covering 1.2 billion people, into a single market, he said, it was the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself, adding that by 2050, it would 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 will offer for manufacturing and service firms from European countries that will establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets.
“And with the accelerated growth that will result from all these, the market opportunities for exporters from European countries could be truly amazing,” he added.