Ghana has officially and formally announced itself as centre of the world.
The announcement was made by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Mrs Catherine Abelema Afeku, in an address, as special guest speaker, at the Master Class of the 2018 Mediterranean Tourism Forum which opened here on Thursday.
Ghana has, for a long time, known its unique geographical position in the world and has, in some quarters, on a limited scale, made a mention of it. The minister’s address at the Malta forum this week is the first time the country has formally staked its claim to influential movers and shakers of the tourism world, namely the over 20 countries of the Mediterranean region.
Among the minister’s audience were representatives of nations of the Southern European Coast, including Greece, Turkey, France, Gibraltar, Monaco, Italy and Malta; the Levantine Coast including Cyprus and Israel and the North Africa sub-region, including Egypt. Algeria, Morroco and Libya.
The Mediterranean Tourism Forum, formed in 2013, brings together public and private sector stakeholders from the various nations with an interest in tourism across the region.
Mrs Afeku said though some nations also claimed to be the centre of the world, and though it had been argued on various platforms that being in the centre depended on where any country found itself, “Ghana’s position is not a case of self-enthronement.
Centre of the world
“The question of which country is the centre of the world was settled more than 200 years ago when some 25 nations met in Washington D. C., USA., for the International Meridian Conference in October 1884 to adopt a single Meridian to replace the numerous ones already in use. In Ghana, the line enters the sea and does not touch any other solid surface till it reaches Antarctica, the southernmost continent and the South Pole.
“Fortunately, nature has, on her part, provided Ghana with an enduring landmark close to the seashore at Tema where the Zero Line of Longitude exits in the form of a small rock known as the Greenwich Rock. Almost a century ago, sailors stopped work to observe some rituals when their ships crossed the Zero Line.” she said.
Ghana’s announcement received instant welcome by various countries, officials and individuals. The Chief Executive of Malta Tourism Authority, Mr Paul Bugega, acknowledged Ghana’s position and told the audience that “with this information by the Ghanaian Minister, I will revise my notes accordingly.”
An international tourism consultant confirmed that Ghana’s claim was irrefutable. He told the Daily Graphic in a chat that “anytime my GPS mistakenly set itself to Latitude Zero and Longitude Zero, the instrument automatically brought up the name, Ghana”.
To tourists from all over the world, the minister threw an invitation: “Soon, you could plan your honeymoon or wedding at the very centre of the world; you will be buying goods manufactured at the centre of the world. Iconic structures are being developed to brand the nation in the same way as the Eiffel Tower has branded France and the Statue of Liberty, the USA.”
Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Juabenhene and Chairman of Ghana’s Council of State who represented Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, at the Master Class, linked the peace and stability Ghana enjoys to the entrenchment of the traditional system of governance at the community level where the chief, together with his elders elected from among clans and extended families, sat to adjudicate disputes at the lowest levels.
Present was Ghana’s High Commissioner to Malta, Mrs Mercy Bampoe Addo.
Later, in an interview with the media, Mrs Afeku announced that to enhance visitor experience, Ghana, through the Ghana Tourist Development Company Limited (GTDC), the investment wing of the sector, had secured the commitment of a Californian company in the USA to construct an iconic tower at a strategic spot at Tema, together with a souvenir room.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had also been signed with the Tema Meridian Presbyterian Church, which is located directly on the Greenwich Meridian, to develop faith-based tourism. “Already,” she said, “people have been visiting the church with the sole aim of praying in a church located at the centre of the world. That is faith-based tourism right there”.
Another MoU will be signed with Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) for space within the Tema harbour to develop cruise business. From Tema, where tourists can take a cruise towards the actual spot within the sea which is the centre of the world.