On Wednesday, 17th May, 2016 – The Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Hon. Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare and the Minister for Federal Affairs, of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Mr. Franz-Josef Lersche-Mense exchanged Notes on a Joint Declaration of Intent between the Government of Ghana and the Federal Government of North Rhine-Westphalia of Germany with the aim of forging “stronger bonds of friendship and cooperation” within the framework of the excellent relations existing between Ghana and Germany.

This Joint Declaration is the successor of an earlier one signed in November, 2007. Unlike its precursor, it provides the framework for the private sector, civil society groups, religious bodies and local authorities to drive project implementation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana and the State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia serves as facilitators for the next five years, which is the life span of the agreement.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, the Hon. Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, referred to the long standing and fruitful relations between Ghana and Germany since 1957 when Ghana attained its independence from colonial rule and underscored the importance of the ceremony which in her view was another milestone in the relations between the two countries.

The Hon. Minister recounted several technical and economic support in the areas of budget financing, decentralisation, Agriculture development, sustainable economic development, financial sector development, and said that her government was delighted to have received support of over 1.37 Billion Euros from the German side.

In response, Mr. Franz-Josef Lersche-Mense, Leader of the Delegation, and Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media of the State of the North Rhine-Westphalia, intimated that, they were in Ghana to “celebrate the renewal of the successful partnership between Ghana and North Rhine-Westphalia”. He explained that the Agreement would establish countless new collaborative activities not only at the governmental level but also at the level of ordinary citizens of both countries. He expressed satisfaction with the various joint projects that have been executed under the previous agreement.

He said that, currently, his country is financing major projects in Ghana which include cultivation of the Fosu Lagoon, as part of a 4-year project in the Central Region, the Universities of Kumasi-Dortmund-Gelsenkirchen renewable energy projects, and the training of Police at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.

He concluded by informing the meeting that two Ghanaian companies, namely Global Mamas in Accra, and Akoma in Bolgatanga, have been invited among “17 companies worldwide to visit North Rhine-Westphalia in September, 2016 to present themselves at a special Trade Fair to showcase their products”.

Ghana’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Akua Sena Dansua and her German Counterpart, H.E Mr Rudiger John taking turns also expressed their satisfaction for the signing of new agreement between Ghana and the North Rhine-Westphalia. In Ambassador Sena Dansua’s view, North Rhine-Westphalia is a strategic partner given the fact that it is the no.1 industrial region and home to four of the 10 biggest German cities – Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen. The German Ambassador to Ghana also made it known that because their laws allowed Federal states to enter into minimal agreements with other countries, North Rhine-Westphalia was free to sign an agreement with Ghana.

Closing the meeting, Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian, Chief Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the “fruitful cooperation” enjoyed by Ghana in the bilateral relations since 1961, and expressed hope that “better and stronger relations” would emanate from the new agreement.

North Rhine-Westphalia has a been the preferred destination for Ghanaians to Germany especially at the time when Ghana Airways operated direct flights from Accra to Düsseldorf, the Capital of the State. It is estimated that 25,000 Ghanaians are living and working in the North Rhine-Westphalia alone.