German Foreign Minister confers with Graphic

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The German Foreign MInister, Dr Guido Westerwelle, is paying a three-nation tour to Africa, commencing today, with a two-day visit to Ghana. He will also be visiting South Africa and Mozambique.

In Ghana, he'll confer with President John Dramani Mahama and the Foreign Minister, Ms Hannah Tetteh; take part in a conference on trade promotion and development co-operation; visit KAIPTC that was built with help from Germany and is still heavily funded by Germany; visit Goethe-Institut (German Cultural Centre) to meet DAAD alumni (German Academic Exchange Service) and partner students (Wesley Girls and Accra Academy) who learn German and meet young entrepreneurs and founders of start-up companies.

The idea of the trip is also to assess Ghana's progress in various fields: The rise of the Ghanaian economy, opportunities for domestic and foreign companies, its sound democracy, its role as an anchor of stability and its contribution to peace on the continent, etc. and to assess the state of German-Ghanaian relations in general.

Daily Graphic’s Political Editor, Mr Kobby Asmah, sent him an advance questionnaire on the rationale for his trip.

Below are excerpts of Dr Westerwelle’s responses to the  questionnaire 

Q:What is the rational for your three-nation trip to Africa?

A: Africa is our neighbour and very important to us. If there are problems, we want to help to solve them. If there are chances, we want to support them. In Ghana, as in the other countries I will visit this time, the chances for sustainable growth are enormous. This can become a true success story, which we want to encourage.

Q  How often have you been to Africa and why did you include Ghana in  your trip to Africa?

A : This is my fifth visit to Africa south of the Sahara as Foreign Minister. Ghana is an important country in West Africa. Politically, Ghana is a centre of stability in the region. Economically, Ghana is on the rise. Germany and Ghana share a long history of cordial relations which we want to continue. I would also like to mention the successful exchanges in the area of culture. Just to mention one recent example, the visit to Germany by the Ghanaian-Nigerian writer Taiye Selasi two weeks ago was a big success.

Q:  What exactly will you be doing in Ghana as part of your visit?

A: My visit will include talks on bilateral and international political issues with Her Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I will also meet young Ghanaian entrepreneurs to discuss the opportunities Ghana offers the young business generation. I will talk to Ghanaian students and academics who study German or have spent time in Germany for training and research. I will also visit the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre. Germany has supported the KAIPTC ever since its creation 10 years ago and will continue to do so. KAIPTC does an important work to meet security challenges in Africa.

Q: How do you assess in specific terms German-Ghana relations in particular and Africa in general?

A : Germany’s relations with African countries are very broad and cover political and security issues, economics and trade, humanitarian and development assistance, science and culture. We see African countries and ourselves as partners and friends who support each other and learn from one another. German-Ghanaian relations are very close. The Embassies, the Goethe-Institut, German lecturers at universities, German business representatives, experts from GIZ and KfW, but also civil society organisations and private initiatives do a great job to take our relations forward.

Q: What do you consider as the landmark achievements in German-Ghana ties?

A :  Take the area of trade, where the exchange between our two countries grew by 56 per cent in 2012. The trading volume now totals almost 650 million Euros. The “West African Clean Energy and Environment Exhibition and Conference” (WACEE’12) initiated by the German Embassy also was a success. Seventy exhibitors representing fourteen countries attended. WACEE has boosted the discussion about the introduction of renewable energies in Ghana to ensure energy supply. Also, the work of KAIPTC is an achievement which we support. It is a unique institution which makes a considerable contribution to peace and security in Africa and beyond.

Q: What in your view must be the new approach to enhance German-Ghana relations?

A: German-Ghanaian relations are very rich and are evolving constantly. We want to build on this partnership, especially in the fields of economy, trade and energy. The German business delegation travelling with me is keen to see even more improvements in the investment environment. Progress in economic cooperation within ECOWAS would provide an additional incentive for German investors.

The possibility to serve the entire West African market from Ghana would be very welcome. Beyond that, we want to develop the full range of our relations, also in the areas of culture, science and political dialogue.

Q: Ghana is touted as a beacon of democracy in Africa.

Currently, the main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, is at the Supreme Court challenging the 2012 Election results which declared President John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress winner.

The outcome of the Supreme Court trial holds challenges for the nation’s peace. First, is this the right approach to electoral dispute and what special message do you have to share with the Ghanaian electorate as we go through the election petition trial at the Supreme Court?

A: I commend the opposition for using the legal path offered by Ghanaian laws. I trust the Ghanaian people to respond calmly to the outcome of the proceedings at the Supreme Court.

Q: Ghana’s role as an anchor of stability and its contribution to peace on the African continent is not in doubt.

What do you think must be done to sustain these achievements? And must we expect any support from the German government?

A: Ghana’s role in peace-keeping is highly appreciated by Germany. Not only does Ghana deploy troops for UN- and African missions – only recently it sent a contingent to Mali – but it also invests in training and in a coherent regional approach through co-operation with the African Union and ECOWAS.

Germany supports the African Union and regional organisations such as ECOWAS in their efforts to improve capacities for crisis management and democratisation. Germany also supports training institutions such as KAIPTC and the École de Maintien de la Paix in Bamako.