Good evening, and let me welcome you to the seat of the Presidency of the Republic. I am here, tonight, to perform a very important duty. This is the first time, since assuming, by the grace of God and the generosity of the Ghanaian people, the high office of President of the Republic, I have the honour of presenting credentials to the first set of persons appointed by me, in accordance with Article 74(1) of the Constitution, to safeguard and promote the image and interests of our nation outside these shores. The eight men and women, who have received their letters of credence this evening, have been carefully chosen to become our Ambassadors and High Commissioners. They have distinguished themselves in their various fields of endeavour and in the public service of our country. They are eminently fit to represent Ghana in their respective places of accreditation, which have expressed satisfaction at their appointments.
I refer to (1) Papa Owusu Ankomah, a well-known Sekondi lawyer, a 5-term Member of Parliament and a Minister of State of many parts in the administrations of that outstanding Ghanaian statesman, the former President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor. He is going to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom as our High Commissioner; (2) Dr. Adjei Barwuah, Ghana’s former, renowned Ambassador to Japan and a distinguished public servant, who is going to Washington as our Ambassador to the United States of America; (3) Ms Anna Bossman, a noted international corporate lawyer, human rights advocate, a former acting Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), and, until now, the Director of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department of the African Development Bank, who heads to the Republic of France, to beautiful Paris, as our Ambassador; (4) Mrs Gina Blay, a successful entrepreneur, long-time President of PRINPAG, media practitioner and a resolute advocate for press freedoms, is going to Berlin in the Federal Republic of Germany as our Ambassador; (5) Frederick Daniel Laryea, Ambassador to our western neighbour and close friend, Cote d’Ivoire. He is an experienced administrator, who has worked previously with the United Nations and the African Development Bank, and has already had successful diplomatic experience as a past Ambassador to Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde; (6) Stephen Mahamudu Yakubu, a respected former Member of Parliament from the Upper East Region in the 5th Parliament of the Republic (2008-2012), is going to an important North African friend of Ghana, the Kingdom of Morocco, as our Ambassador; (7) Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Ghana’s High Commissioner to our mighty neighbour, the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has an impressive record of public service – Member of Parliament, Minister of State, and a past Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; and (8) Edward Boateng, dynamic entrepreneur, media executive and consummate project manager, as our Ambassador to one of the outstanding economic success stories of modern times, the People’s Republic of China. I congratulate each one of you warmly on your well-deserved appointment.
Ambassadors and High Commissioners, your roles are threefold – diplomatic, ceremonial and administrative. You must, however, bear in mind that, in all of these, you have the onerous responsibility of preserving and promoting the image of a country whose reputation amongst the comity of nations is high. You represent a country that, as a result of the commendable conduct of the Ghanaian people, is regarded as one of the most stable on the continent, which is a functioning democracy, governed by the rule of law, and respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability. We are regarded as a beacon of democracy in Africa, and, recently, in April, according to the reputable RMB Global Markets Research, the 4th best place to invest and do business in on the African continent. You are the most visible symbol of our country out there, and in all your actions you must guard jealously our country’s image. I am confident this is a charge you will uphold.
I was elected, in the elections of December 2016, because the Ghanaian people were dissatisfied with their living standards, and were not happy with the direction in which the economy and, indeed, the country was headed. One of our biggest challenges will be to fix the economy we inherited. It bears repeating that we inherited an economy confronted with significant challenges – 74 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio; fiscal deficit of 9%; US$2.4 billion debt overhang in the energy sector; a growth rate of 3.6% in 2016, the lowest in the last 23 years; erratic power supply; declining agricultural and industrial growth rates; high production and operating costs; high lending and inflation rates; widespread unemployment; and widespread corruption. That is why the people of Ghana voted emphatically for change in our favour, because of the belief that we could fix it, and fix it we will. We have, in the short space of five months, begun to do so.
As I indicated on Wednesday, at the 2017 World Bank Development Finance Forum, government has made it a policy to seek more private sector equity financing for infrastructure projects, rather than the historic resort to borrowing and more borrowing that has resulted in the ballooning of our debt stock. This means that you have the responsibility to drive private sector investment into Ghana. You are the chief promoters of Ghana’s commercial interests to the respective countries to which you are going. Promoting Ghana means working closely with our Ministries and Agencies at home, whose role it is to generate investment in the country. Remember vividly the slogans of our flagship programmes, 1-District-1-Factory; 1-Village-1-Dam; Planting for Food and Jobs. They are descriptions of our commitment to the rapid development and transformation of the nation’s industrial and agricultural sectors. We are determined to create the appropriate macroeconomic environment which will attract domestic and foreign investment into these, the real sectors of our economy. You have to help in that exercise.
You must strive to develop cordial working relations with the professional Foreign Service officers you will find at your duty posts. They have invaluable experience and knowledge of the terrain, which should help you work effectively. You will need their assistance, and they will need your guidance and leadership. Mutual respect is the key to harmonious working relations. Again, your rapport with the Ghanaian communities in your respective countries will be vital to your prospects of success. They will be counting and looking up to you to champion not only our nation’s interests, but theirs as well. Do your best not to disappoint them.
Ghana is on very good and cordial terms with all the countries to which you have been posted. Our bilateral relations span several decades, and our ties of co-operation remain strong. Your role is to deepen these even further, as well as explore other areas of effective co-operation, which will inure to the mutual benefit of our respective populations. In doing so, you will recall at all times our objective – to build a Ghana Beyond Aid, a Ghana which is self-reliant and exploiting its own resources, honestly, with hard work, enterprise and creativity, to build the free, prosperous Ghana of the dreams of the founding fathers of our nation.
I believe strongly that, in you, we have the men and women who can help to turn around quickly the fortunes of our country, and put her on the road to progress and prosperity. The Ghanaian people have placed their hopes for a better life on us. We cannot fail them. I am looking forward eagerly to working with you in the coming years so we can, together, realise their hopes and aspirations.
Once again, congratulations, and may God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.