President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the two largest producers of cocoa in the world, cannot continue to benefit from only a pittance of the global value chain of the industry.
He said the two countries contributed more than half of the global supply of cocoa but the benefit derived was nothing to write home about, describing that as an injustice.
“This is manifest injustice. It cannot and should not continue,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo said this when he delivered an address at a state dinner in honour of President Alassane Ouattara in Accra last Monday night.
He also bestowed Ghana's highest civilian national honour "The Companion of the Star of Ghana", Honorary Division, on the Ivorian leader for his untiring efforts at ensuring social justice, peace and security at the domestic and international levels.
President Akufo-Addo recounted that in 2015, the two countries earned from their collective output, some USD$5.75 billion which accounted for 65 per cent of the world’s cocoa production.
That, he said, was at a time when the global chocolate market was worth some USD$100 billion.
“It meant that our farmers, through whose toil and sweat the cocoa industry is founded, earned 5.75 per cent of the global value chain of the industry,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The President added that being the two largest producers of cocoa, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had begun to cooperate to ensure that they did not continue to be victims or pawns of a global cocoa industry that was dependent on the work of their farmers.
President Akufo-Addo recalled that when the verdict on the delimitation of the maritime boundaries was given in Hamburg, the two countries, in a joint statement, declared that they were going to cooperate to deal with the consequences of the judgement.
Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, the President said, accepted the decision, in accordance with the Statute of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
What was of paramount importance to the two populations, he said, was the peaceful exploitation of the maritime resources for their benefit, “and our decision to establish a joint implementation committee to oversee the orderly execution of the judgement will reassure them”.
The ECOWAS challenge
On ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo noted that its challenge over the years had been leadership and said there was the need for a leadership that would focus on the region, and not on individual countries.
Citing an example, he said, the European Union took off because the political leadership of France and Germany decided to make it work.
“Once the political will is evident, we can then work together to make out of ECOWAS a true regional community and market,” he stressed.
Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, he observed, were two of the most important members of the ECOWAS community, and were at the heart of its geography and make-up, one Anglophone, the other Francophone.
“Together, we should be the motor that powers the integration of our region. I have made it clear on several occasions, and in the countries I have visited so far in the region and on the continent, that I am willing to do whatever I can to strengthen the ECOWAS Community. I am fully committed, and I know President Alassane Ouattara is too,” he declared.
The President said it was extremely important for the welfare of the 350 million people of the region, a figure that would reach some 500 million in 20 years’ time, that the leaders demonstrate strong political will to make the project of regional integration an economic and political success, and make it a reality in the lives of their peoples.
“We cannot but look upon this juncture of history as one of great opportunity for West Africa. For the first time in her history, all 15 nations of the region have democratically elected leaders,” he observed.
President Ouattara, for his part, expressed appreciation for what he described as a show of love and hospitality by Ghanaians from all walks of life on the streets, as he, together with President Akufo-Addo went on a ceremonial drive through parts of Accra.
“I am deeply touched by all the outstanding marks of attention you extended to my delegation since our arrival in this beautiful and charming city of Accra,” he said.
He said the kind of support Ghanaians showed to the President in the capital city where Presidents often lacked support was phenomenal and an indication that President Akufo-Addo had really won the hearts and minds of his people.
President Ouattara said Ghana and Côte d''Ivoire had in just a few months taken far-reaching steps to enhance the quality of the bilateral cooperation between the two countries for their mutual benefit
He expressed optimism that the various agreements and memoranda of understanding signed between the two countries would signal a new era of prosperity, peace and progress for the peoples of the two countries.