Opening Remarks by the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Session of the South Africa – Ghana Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC), Accra, Ghana, 11 March 2010
Your Excellency, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana,
Your Excellency, South African High Commissioner to the Republic of Ghana, Ms Ntombizodwa Lallie,
Your Excellency, Ghanaian High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Lee Ocran,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I feel profoundly honoured and privileged to co-chair this, the 2nd session of the South Africa-Ghana Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation (JPCC) with you in the beautiful and historic city of Accra. Thanks for the exceptional, traditional Ghanaian Akwaba and hospitality accorded to me and my delegation.
Our meeting is taking place during the year in which Ghana is celebrating the Centenary of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, which commenced on 21 September 2009 and will culminate in May 2010, under the theme, “The Centenary of Kwame Nkrumah: A life of struggle, a vision of Africa unbound”. Celebrations to mark and honour this gallant son of Africa who, side by side with other African freedom fighters, championed the de-colonisation of Africa have commenced in Ghana and throughout the continent. Many a liberation movements and peoples across Africa drew inspiration from Nkrumah, the icon of Pan-Africanism, a visionary and uncompromising proponent of the decolonisation and independence of Africa. On the occasion of the centennial celebration we salute this giant of Africa whose vision we are passionately and steadfastly committed to realise.
Our meeting also coincides with the 53rd anniversary of the independence of Ghana. Ghana inspired peoples of the continent who were still suffering under the yoke of colonialism to demand freedom and independence. A wave of independence struggles was to follow after Ghana’s independence, which prompted then British Foreign Secretary, Harold Macmillan to make his well-known speech in which he likened the momentous independence struggles as ‘winds of change blowing across Africa’.
The symbolism of our relationship lies in the fact that Ghana was the first black African state to be independent from colonialism, and South Africa was the last African state to gain freedom from Apartheid and colonialism of a special type. Our people looked up to Ghana for inspiration and leadership, and will forever remain grateful for the solidarity we enjoyed from successive governments of Ghana and indebted to the people of Ghana for their selfless sacrifices, which made it possible for us to achieve our freedom.
Now that we have defeated the twin menaces of colonialism and Apartheid, our common challenge is to fight poverty and under-development, and place our countries on an upward economic trajectory. The PJCC is one of the means that we need to use to engage in mutually beneficial relations that will help to push back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment.
In this age of interdependence, where interstate relations are characterised by cooperation, we need to deepen and expand our ties for the achievement of our common goals. As much as this may be a daunting task, it is nevertheless necessary. We dare not fail our people otherwise we risk being judged harshly by history. I am convinced that together we can do more for the benefit of our peoples.
Guided by the vision of Nkrumah, we should work much harder to improve and balance two-way trade and investment, thus contributing to intra-African trade. It is a serious indictment on us, and indeed a sad reality of our times that trade between African countries accounts for less than 10% of their overall trade. Ghana and South Africa, together with other emerging economies of our continent should act as locomotives in their various Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that pull the rest of the continent towards a common market, through regional economic integration.
I would like to recall the opening session of the Africa Investment Forum that was co-hosted by the government of the Republic of Ghana and the Commonwealth Business Council from 8-10 February 2010 in Accra, where H.E. President John Attah Mills stated that the era for political emancipation is over and now is the time to focus on economic emancipation. The President further indicated that African countries need to review their policies so as to create an environment conducive to investors.
Our business people also gained from the discussions of the Africa Investment Forum that was held in Ghana last month, under the theme, “Accelerating Intra-African Trade and Investment”. This Forum identified issues that serve as multipliers and barriers to industrialization from which our governments and business entities should learn.
In the area of direct investment, I would like to reiterate what President Jacob Zuma and President Mills have indicated at different platforms, namely that, African countries must make a concerted effort to create an enabling environment in which private and public sector entities should invest in each other’s economies in a manner that would be mutually beneficial and would promote sustainable partnerships.
I would like to renew our Government’s invitation to Ghanaian business people to invest in the various sectors of our economy. We would like to thank you for creating possibilities for the South African private sector to invest in the Ghanaian economy, primarily in the areas of telecommunications, financial services, hospitality and retail sectors.
As a concrete demonstration of our commitment to improve cooperation between our two governments and peoples in the field of arts and culture our two Ministers of Arts and Culture signed an Agreement that will strengthen ties in the areas of skills transfer and capacity building; people to people exchange programmes; and twinning of cultural institutions.
We are proud of Ghana’s track record and its growing reputation as a stable democracy that recognises human rights and the rule of law. The 2008 elections, which ushered in the eighth Republic, cemented the democratic ethos and culture in Ghana and their peaceful conduct was a good advertisement for the Continent. These elections showcased democracy in action on the African Continent. Ghana and South Africa as well as 27 other African States are signatories of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which seeks to promote and entrench democracy and good governance. Ghana’s APRM review underscored the resilience of its democracy, the strength of its institutions and the reliability and predictability of its regulatory framework. We are proud to be associated with this model of stability and we will continue exchanging experiences in order to improve and modernise our political and economic systems.
We remain committed to Africa’s development within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which is the only viable programme for the socio-economic development of the African Continent. In this regard South Africa will continue to work with Ghana to capitalise and implement bankable projects using the Pan-Africa Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) as a catalyst for these projects.
You will agree with me that the latest wave of coups and other forms of political instability taking place in our Continent, particularly in West Africa, are a major cause for concern. We wish to encourage you to continue playing an active, positive and constructive role within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resolve the situations in Niger, Guinea Conakry and Cote d’ Ivoire. We are confident that these conflicts will be resolved through dialogue thereby assuring durable peace and stability in the region.
We should also continue with our efforts to promote a just, equitable and rules-based multilateral system which can only be realised if institutions of global governance, in particular the United Nations (UN) and its organs as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions, are fundamentally transformed. At the same time we should urge developed countries to muster the political will and courage, so that we can conclude the long- standing Doha Development Round. Their refusal to endorse a developmental agenda in world trade negotiations is delaying the integration of economies of the global South into the global economic system.
The countdown to the 2010 FIFA World Soccer Cup has begun in earnest. Today we are exactly 91 days away from the biggest sporting event in the world. This World Cup presents immense opportunities for Africa to show-case itself and in the process change global perception about the Continent. South Africa is merely the stage and the Continent is the theatre on which this festival of soccer will be held. We wish all African teams the best and we hope the World Cup trophy will remain in Africa. It’s time, “Ke nako”.
Let me conclude by thanking you once more for the excellent reception accorded to me and my delegation. I am certain that this Second Session of the PJCC will place our cooperation on a higher level.
I thank you.