The Chinese government has presented four speed boats to the Ghana Navy to be used for maritime patrol and surveillance duties.
The boats could also be used for disaster relief, as well as search and rescue operations.
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It forms part of a $7.5 million grant by the Chinese government to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in line with the Chinese security cooperation with the Ghanaian government.
Speaking at a ceremony in Tema to commission the boats, the Minister of Defence, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, indicated that the ever-increasing offshore activities and prospects of future oil discoveries in parts of the country had made it imperative to retool the Ghana Navy.
He pointed out that although a number of interventions were made in the past to improve the state of the navy’s operational activities, the changing maritime environment in the Gulf of Guinea had necessitated the need to purchase additional fleet to ensure the Ghana Navy was capable of dealing with maritime crimes.
Mr Nitiwul recalled the purchase of four patrol boats from China and two from Germany in 2011 and 2012 to augment the Navy’s fleet.
He also announced that procurement processes had begun for additional fast patrol boats in the wake of illegal fishing, smuggling and illicit drug trade which had become a threat to security and trade not only in the West African sub-region but across the globe.
He commended the Chinese government for the gesture and expressed the hope that the boats would improve the effectiveness of the Navy and also ease the pressure on the existing equipment.
The Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Sun Baohong, in an address, indicated that the presentation was in line with government’s cooperation and plans in the areas of national defence, counter terrorism, immigration patrols, customs among others.
China, she said, played a unique role in the solution of Africa’s security issues in its quest to support Africa to speed up development and eradicate poverty.
Ghana, Madam Sun Baohong suggested, was one of the first sub-Saharan countries to have established economic ties with China, a friendship which had been deepened and has become invaluable to both countries.
“The handover of the boats is another important achievement of our bilateral security cooperation which was strengthened when your Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, visited China in June this year,” she stated.