Ghana and Sierra Leone have agreed to ratify the agreement for co-operation between their two countries, so as to provide the legal framework for addressing their trade and investment concerns.
Despite the good relations that exist between the two countries, there is no framework for co-operation to guide these relations, with this development hampering the deepening of bilateral ties and co-operation amongst the two countries.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo has assured that “I will pursue this matter with my Parliament to ensure the ratification of this Agreement”, an agreement which was signed between the two countries on 19th December, 2013, but which is yet to be ratified.
“Co-operation in the development of our agriculture, education, science and technology, infrastructure, health, energy and culture, and the co-ordination of the exploitation of our mutual natural resources, such as bauxite, iron ore, diamonds and gold, would be of immense benefit to our two countries.”
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, after paying a working day’s visit to Sierra Leone, at the commencement of the third phase of his official visits to countries in the ECOWAS region.
In addition to intensifying the links between Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean enterprises, the President stated that the process of regional integration must be hastened.
“For a region that has made the choice of pursuing integration, we have not done much as we should have in liberalizing and encouraging trade amongst member countries,” he said.
Research has shown that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade. However, Trade between African regions remains low compared to other parts of the world.
With these very low levels of trade and investment co-operation, President Akufo-Addo noted that deliberate measures at expanding trade and business collaborations must be put in place to improve the prospects for prosperity of our two peoples.
In reiterating his commitment towards strengthening ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo was certain that “for a marked improvement in the welfare of the 350 million people currently living in the 15 member states of ECOWAS, I believe it is extremely important that we, the leaders, demonstrate strong political will to make the community an economic and political success, and make the project of integration real.”
With West Africa’s population set to hit 500 million people in 20 years from now, up from the current population of 350 million, he stressed that “this could be a large regional market, which could present immense opportunities to bring prosperity to our region with hard work, enterprise and creativity. The time for West African integration is now. Together, all ECOWAS member states should show real commitment towards converting ECOWAS into a true regional market.”
President Akufo-Addo also commended his Sierra Leonean counterpart for the efforts he has made in restoring law and order, fostering a spirit of national reconciliation amongst the people, and the strong leadership he has exhibited in restoring macroeconomic stability since assuming the reins of government in 2007.
“In 2013, for example, the GDP growth rate reached a record, all-time high of 20.70%. In 2014 and 2015, in the face of two major shocks, i.e. the ebola virus outbreak and the collapse of iron prices, Sierra Leone’s economy was shaken. Growth rates slumped dramatically,” he said.
However, according to President Akufo-Addo, “with prudent economic policies, spurred on by new investments in mining, agriculture and fisheries, economic growth has resumed, with GDP growth projected at 5.4% in 2016. Hopefully, this growth path will endure.”
President Akufo-Addo added that it was his desire that “Ghana and Sierra Leone to search continually for ways to co-operate, irrespective of who is at the helm of office of our respective countries. I have no doubt, that, together, we can forge a new, strong partnership for cooperation between our two nations for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.”
With the Sierra Leonean people about to go to the polls in March 2018 to elect a new leader, President Akufo-Addo noted that “that process will be enhanced, to the admiration of all in our region and beyond, by the quality of the arrangements for the next electoral contest in Sierra Leone, and by the quality of the democratic transition which Sierra Leone is about to witness. I wish you and the Sierra Leonean people well and Godspeed.”