TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Obama to visit Ghana in July

Monday, 18 May 2009

Source: Daily Guide Ghana

President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America, will pay a 2-day visit to Ghana early July 10 to 11.

Accompanied by his wife Michelle, Ghana will be the first African country being visited by the President of the world’s super power, since taking over the White House some four months ago.

An official statement from the White House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which disclosed the event, added that the visit would be sequel to similar trips to Italy and Russia.

The visit has been described as auspicious by a cross section of Ghanaians who think it marks the beginning of new opportunities with the world super power, especially now that the country is on the verge of joining the league of oil-producing countries.

The visit comes on the heels of a three-day visit by President Obama’s predecessor, George Bush, who spent two nights in Accra last year.

The two-day visit, Friday July 10 and Saturday 11, 2009, would afford the first Black President of the US, the opportunity to visit the slave castles in Cape Coast.

The US has a long-standing history with Africa, especially Cape Coast and the northern regions. The Central regional capital was the main route for taking black slaves from the northern regions to the Americas to work on sugarcane plantations.

Most of the African-Americans, as they are being called today, trace their roots to this part of Africa.

Ghana, through government, will use the rare opportunity to discuss subjects of mutual interest during the visit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “We should try to push ideas to get the international institutions to modify their conditions and processes in our favour so that we can trade, rather than always asking for aid”.

As a mainly primary product exporter, Ghana has been struggling for years to add value to her exports but has made little progress in that direction.

Inflation has had its toll on the economy but the past eight years has witnessed significant progress, especially as the Cedi held its own against the main convertible currencies with distinction.

The recent economic meltdown, coupled with the high prices of food products across the world last year, appeared to have bypassed the country, a development which was broadly discussed on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the past few days during President Mills visit to London.

The mature manner in which the previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration managed the last polls in the country, which saw the rival National Democratic Congress (NDC) return to power by a shoestring difference, has been hailed worldwide, placing Ghana on a democratic pedestal in a continent where most heads of state stay glued to power or sour greatly when shown the exit.

The Obama visit is said to have been influenced by the political development devoid of sending the country to the precipice, as witnessed in other African democracies.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced that the leaders of the two countries will hold bilateral discussions, a normal feature of such high-level visits.

When Ghanaians heard about the news on the BBC, their excitement knew no bounds as they screamed in ecstasy at the prospect of hosting their idol and his better-half, Michelle.

Obama, the son of a Kenyan migrant and a white American, prompted a wave of excitement across Africa when the signs showed clearly that he was on the verge of making history as the first Black man to occupy the Oval Office.

This is by no means the first time that Ghana is hosting a US President. In 1998, the 42nd President, Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is now Secretary of State to Obama, made a six-hour stop over in Ghana during a six-nation tour of Africa, the most extensive visit to Africa ever undertaken by a sitting U.S. president. During his whistle stop in Ghana, Clinton was greeted by a large crowd of enthusiastic Ghanaians.

Ghana was privileged once more to host George Bush, the 43rd President, in the nation’s capital in a three-day visit during the reign of President John Agyekum Kufuor as part of a five-nation Africa tour.

While in Ghana, Mr. Bush held bilateral talks with the then President John Kufuor, with discussions centered on developmental issues, the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Africa Union, regional security, Millennium Development Goals and humanitarian issues.

Bush approved $457million dollars under the Millennium Challenge Account, part of which is currently being used for the construction of the Tetteh Quarshie to Mallam dual carriage highway, to be called George Bush Motor Way.

The visit came at a time relations between the two countries were at an all-time high, with President Kufuor meeting with President Bush at least five times in the last three years.

It will be recalled that Bush described as ‘Baloney’, suggestions at the time that America was planning a military base in Ghana. It has turned out to be false with US still shopping for a base.

Former Information Minister, Oboshie Sai-Coffie, it would be recalled, remarked in excitement at the time: “Ever since the Ghana 2008 football ended, we’ve been waiting impatiently for this day because it’s been the next major item on our calendar coordination. And today, we are expecting His Excellency President Bush and Mrs. Bush and his entourage this evening with some anticipation and some excitement for this visit”.

There are hundreds of Ghanaians holding US citizenship, a development which adds to the excitement of the visit.

The militaries of the two countries hold periodic exercises in various aspects of warfare, especially jungle warfare, at Ghana’s Jungle Warfare School at Achiase in the Eastern Region and collaborate in the construction of school blocks as well as the AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act).



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