Kamala Harris' visit to Ghana: Opportunity to build on historic relationships
The historic visit of the Vice-President of the United States of America (USA), Kamala D. Harris to the country as part of a three-nation African tour is expected to mark a new dawn of economic relations between the countries.
It is obviously another grand chance for Ghana to warm itself into the international capital markets and into the hearts of foreign investors who have drastically lost interest and hope in the country presently, but are waiting to see events unfold in the right direction to restore hope.
Coming on the back of harsh economic conditions occasioned largely by the outbreak of COVID-19; the worsening Russian/Ukraine war, as well as some wrong economic decisions on the part of the government, the visit, which began last Sunday, is undoubtedly unique because it provides a great opportunity for the country to economically reset itself for the better.
There is no doubt that in the last couple of years, investor confidence in the country has waned because of the worsening economic situation occasioned by a larger than expected debt position which has resulted in the country having to embark on a painful debt restructuring exercise as part of measures to bring its debts to sustainable levels.
It is also meant to ensure macro-economic stability.
At the height of it all, the various measures being embarked on by the government are meant to enable government to access more than $3 billion in balance of payment support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
From history, it has remained a fact that the US deals with countries in which it has interest either democratically or economically.
However, no matter what, this offers an opportunity for countries that are close to the hearts of the US to also play smart to leverage the opportunities thereof.
This is, obviously, one such big chance which the country, which has been battered economically, cannot afford to lose.
US Investments in Ghana
According to the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Ghana, bilateral trade between Ghana and the United States was estimated to be around US$1.6 billion as of 2021 alone and growing.
Ghana continues to enjoy substantial foreign direct investment from the United States as U.S. FDI into country is estimated to be in excess of US$22 billion over the last decade.
Aside that, it is also on record that US businesses, through their operations have made significant contributions to the country’s socioeconomic development.
Apart from being large tax-paying entities, they continue to employ and develop the skills of thousands of Ghanaians in areas such as mining, agriculture, housing and many other key sectors of economy.
The timing of the visit of such a high profile personality in the US government is not only crucial but one that is meant to restore hope because wherever the US goes, there is revival.
That is exactly what Ghana needs so badly at the moment to prove to the rest of the world that the ailing economy will bounce back.
Many a time, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has maintained that the challenges faced in the country will be fixed and has thus outlined a number of measures including the domestic debt restructuring programme which is painful, but has a lot of potential to revive the ailing economy in the short to medium.
The Finance Minister, who has also received a lot of bashing from the impatient public including those from his own political party because of the grievous economic challenges, has kept hopes alive by reassuring the nation about what is to come.
This visit, is ,therefore, timeous and a great source of inspiration because from what is known, the US will never associate with hopeless situations.
The timing is great by all standards and must be leveraged by all, particularly businesses, irrespective of size.
In a statement issued by the Executive Secretary of AmCham, Ghana, Simon Madjie, he was emphatic when he advised Ghana to position itself to fully leverage the economic opportunities that the visit of Kamala Harris brings.
“Ghana should take advantage of this opportunity and moment because the focus of the US would be on our country to drive home the need for more US Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), increase diaspora engagement and strengthen cooperation in the creative, educational, health, security and cultural sectors,” he said.
As the country's largest bilateral development partner, the US has always maintained a keen interest in the economic development of Ghana and, therefore, coming in at this time is obviously crucial and the opportunity must be milked in the interest of the economy.
Among the delegation with Kamala Harris are business men and women who will be willing to do business in Ghana.
It is expected that those privileged business associations which will be holding discussions with the delegation will be frank and open to win partnership deals that will not only inure to their individual benefits but for the country as a whole, particularly as it seeks renewed hope to restore investor confidence once again to bring the economy back on track