TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Ghana prepares for Obama visit

Monday, 06 July 2009

Source: VOA News

U.S. President Barack Obama makes his first trip to Sub-Saharan Africa as president this week. He is going to Ghana after stops in Russia and Italy and the country is making preparations for the historic visit.

Ghana is getting ready for President Barack Obama's visit with a fresh coat of white paint on the curbs along his route and a series of billboards - some welcoming the president and first lady, others showing the president with Ghanian leader John Atta-Mills under the words: Partnership for Change.

President Mills won election earlier this year in a hard-fought, closely-contested vote that saw the ruling party concede defeat.

At Accra's main fire station, rescue workers say the decision by America's first black president to make this country his first stop in Sub-Saharan Africa reflects Ghana's political maturity.

"We are the first country to show maturity in elections because all other countries, after or before elections, there are fights and all this misunderstanding," she said. "But we comport ourselves and go accordingly on the electoral procedure."

Her colleague says Mr. Obama's visit will help focus attention on Ghana's stability.

"It is good that President Obama is coming to Ghana so that some African countries can say, 'Yes," he said. "A black American is the president.' And moreover, what we need from him is, he will bring more investors. More investors so our youths will get jobs to do, and our country will become a first-class country like theirs."

President Obama has already been good for business at the Accra Mall. The Kiki clothing store offers a variety of colorful Obama t-shirts. Owner Titi Ademola started selling Obama products before he was even elected president. His visit has boosted demand.

"He really appeals to so many people," she said. "And we can see that in the different customers that come to buy our Obama t-shirts. We have a wide range of customers from literally all over the world."

Shoppers at Accra Mall hope President Obama's visit will help cement Ghana's position in West Africa as a steady, free-market democracy.

"We have been an example for other African countries," said the shopper. "And he believes that when he comes here, other people will look up to Ghana and also take up democracy."

President Obama says he is coming to Ghana to highlight the results achieved by stable countries that are governed well, where leadership is accountable to the people and institutions are stronger than any one person.