Danish aid to Ghana will be phased out by 2020. This, however, does not signify an end to the friendship between Denmark and Ghana, but rather marks the transition from development cooperation to a new partnership with focus on trade and investments, commercial, political and research partnership, built on the strong foundation laid by the many years of friendship.
As a result, this year is seeing the third and last phase of Danish support to Ghana.
The decision to phase out the support was announced by the Danish government in 2013.
Now private companies and business executives can take centre stage in the partnership.
Before then in 2012, the Danish Trade Council opened an office at the Danish Embassy in Accra, after having brought in phase two of Danish support programme for the private sector in 2010, while the
Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries also opened an office at the Danish Embassy.
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In 2003, Danish support programme for the private sector was launched and a strategy for Danish aid to Ghana was adopted, focusing on four sectors, including water and sanitation, transport, energy and health.
The Danish Embassy which was originally opened in Ghana in 1961 and closed in 1983 was reopened in Accra in 1991. Three years earlier in 1989, Ghana which had been included on the list of priority countries for Danish support, was chosen as one of the first 12 programme cooperation countries of Danida.
The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Tove Degnbol, explained that for decades, Denmark had had very extensive activities in development cooperation, including health, water and sanitation, environment private sector development, support to parliament, and the judicial service among others, with most of the staff working on development cooperation in one way or the other.
She said the development cooperation was being phased out while at the same time gradually, building their cooperation in trade.
Now one part of the embassy is known as the 'Wall Sreet', where all the staff are involved in trade business in various forms, or private sector development and are working closely together across teams, she added.
The Ambassador noted that, as Danida withdraws from Ghana, the floor now opens for a stronger private sector partnership and this had a lot to build on. Danida has supported numerous individual partnerships between
Danish and Ghanaian private companies and they have also been in the firefront of supporting skills development and rural financing.
Last Wednesday, the Danish Embassy launched its new magazine, From Aid to Trade, at a ceremony in Accra, which highlights the Ghanaian-Danish partnership in transition.
The magazine gives an account of Danida's private sector support and future perspectives, tracing how it all started and ended, rediscovering the private sector, a pioneering partnership, the engine of growth overhaul, the iconic comapny - Fan Milk, bridging the publicprivate sector gap, with emphasis on the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund and investing in skills, as well as addressing the paradox of rural finance.
The magazine, which mentions Lars Joker and Jesper Heldgaard for playing various roles in putting it together, gives highlights of seven short films on the Danish-Ghanaian private sector partnership.
Mrs Degnbol was happy to note that the private sector was now developing very fast in Ghana with a lot of new companies coming up, adding that there was a huge potential for Danish companies in Ghana and a growing middle class demanding a lot of their products.
Ambassador Degnbol announced that in recent years, imports of goods from Ghana to Denmark exceeded exports from Denmark to Ghana.
In 2015, she said Ghana's total exports to Denmark were estimated at DKK337.7 million ( US$50.3 million), while Denmark's total exports to Ghana amounted to an estimated DKK200 million (US$31.5 million).
The magazine refers to a statement made by one of the three Danish development experts, Mr Ole Blicher- Olsen, who got together in 1989 and started designing what was to become the Danish Private Sector Development (PSD) Programme, piloted in Ghana, India and Zimbabwe from 1993.
Mr Blicher-Olsen, who became the Danish Ambassador to Ghana from 1998 to 2003, said, "We realised that the aid to government structures alone cannot reduce poverty or create much-needed jobs, so we wanted to give direct support to private companies in developing countries combined with access to Danish companies' expertise and knowhow."
The Executive Secretary of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum-Akwaoboah praised Danida for supporting the AGI and maintaining a direct dialogue with Ghana's private sector.
He said Danida involved the private sector in anything it did and recognised the vital role of the private sector.
Danida had suplorted skills development and agricultural and rural financing from 2010 to 2016 to the tune of DKK 86 million which was allocated through the ARB Apex Bank.