Prince Charles’s visit must redefine Ghana, UK ties

BY: Kobby Asmah
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall

The bond between Ghana and the United Kingdom (UK) dates back to colonial times. Ghana and UK, therefore, have shared history and values and for that matter, will have a shared future going forward.

Many Ghanaians, including President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, have had their education and training in the UK and even till today, there are many Ghanians living in various parts of the UK.

It is, therefore, a natural choice for Ghana and the UK  to forge and strengthen deeper relations in all spheres of national endeavours.

It is in this respect that I consider the visit of the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as an endorsement of Ghana to the global community and it is up to Ghanaians to take full advantage of it.

For me, it is an honour for Ghana to host the future king of England on our shores for five days commencing Friday, November 2 to today, November 6, 2018.

Significant of visit

But beyond this, Ghana needs to understand a bit more of the significance of the visit to the country.Prince Charles’ last visit to the country was in March 1977 and it was equally historic.

Now that the five-day visit is over and the fanfare has come to end, what does the two countries hope to achieve from this historic visit?. Today, while the United Kingdom is faced with the challenge of Brexit and its associated implications, Ghana, on the other hand, is aiming at a life beyond aid.

The two countries have no better choice than to explore new ways of how the UK can help Ghana achieve a life beyond aid and what Ghana can do to support the UK as it has exited from the European Union.

Ghana’s infrastructure deficit

For me, Ghana has a serious infrastructure deficit. Our roads are generally in a bad state and shape. We are still not energy sufficient, water supply is erratic across the country, housing needs continue to be a challenge. In short, Ghana is faced with basic infrastructural challenges. Fortunately, the United Kingdom is globally renowned for its civil engineering prowess and is very strong on the service sector from engineering, finance to tourism.

Ghana can, therefore, take advantage of what the UK has to offer the world as it moves to a life beyond aid. But what is our strategic overarching plan to see us achieve a Ghana beyond aid?

For me, the government of Ghana should not only focus on the usual traditional ties of trading in unprocessed cocoa, gold, timber etc but should also look to harness what the UK service sector, including construction, can do to support Ghana as it moves to a life beyond aid.

We must not go for tokenism but demand support that can help the country rapidly transform, for instance, to fix its entire road net works in the capital city of Accra. We need to tell our global partners that we are positioning ourselves beyond aid so we need support in our education and housing sectors for example. We need to position Ghana to benefit from support that can help Ghana to provide potable water for all of its citizens.

It is a shame that 60 years and beyond, Ghana is far behind in meeting these basic needs of its people.

Right technical support

I believe, with the right technical support from the UK, it can help a lot in civil engineering to transform Ghana’s road sector to become efficient.

Ghana will immediately need a comprehensive strategic plan and a better working structure to attract support from our key global partners such as the UK.
The whole country needs to think differently and become smarter moving towards a life beyond aid.

Innovation and enthusiasm

On Ghana’s part, the UK stands to benefit from Ghana’s comparative advantages. Ghana has a rich culture and is moving towards an educated population.
Ghana’s growing young population is also bustling with innovation and enthusiasm.

Ghana should, therefore, be in a position to offer the UK a willing and enthusiastic educated population to work with the United Kingdom to support Ghana to achieve our basic needs.

For instance, Ghana has a vast area of untapped tourist attractions which have not been harnessed. Our tourism industry compared to even neighbouring Gambia, is a sorry plight that shames Ghana.

To say our tourism industry should wake up and come up with a serious strategy is an under statement.

Ghana’s rich hospitality, including food, culture, historic sites if harnessed well, can earn the nation some foreign exchange. Many beaches, including that along Bortianor, Ningo Prampram and James Town are all crying out for serious investments and Ghana’s tourist industry can work with the United Kingdom to boost the service industry.

Ghana should forge a relationship with the UK tourism industry to help improve our tourism as this is a huge potential for sharing our culture and enhancing our revenue.

President Akufo-Addo when he met his Royal Highness, Prince Charles at the Jubilee House in Accra, lamented about the dwindling trade ties and called for improvement, while at another meeting at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II enjoined the visiting Prince to support a Ghana beyond aid.

With Ghana beyond aid, we all as citizens of Ghana have to think differently going forward and Prince Charles’ visit to Ghana cannot be allowed to go waste but must offer greater opportunities to enhance living standards for all.

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