Ghana-Canada Business Networking Luncheon (Ghana)
Accra, Ghana, Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Thank you for your warm welcome. I am delighted to be in Ghana—Canada’s partner in the Commonwealth and truly one of Africa’s leading lights.
Indeed, that status is reflected in the star at the centre of the Ghanaian flag—the symbolic lodestar, or guiding light, of Africa.
In so many ways, this country inspires others in this region and across the continent. Ghana is a model of democracy, human rights and peace and security. It is also a significant economic engine and trading partner, thanks largely to people like you, who reach out to the world and work hard to make this a great place to do business.
For more than a century, Canadians and Ghanaians have been interacting and exchanging with each other. Canada is today home to tens of thousands of people of Ghanaian origin, and this country is likewise home to many Canadians. In 2006, my predecessor, Michaëlle Jean, came here to mark the centennial of our people-to-people ties, and today we stand at the dawn of a new era of friendship and co-operation.
In recent years, Ghana has made impressive economic gains that have been noticed around the world, including in Canada.
The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, led a trade delegation to Ghana at the beginning of February with over 30 delegates, and I am told that many of you participated in that programme.
As you may be aware:
- Canada has just over 120 Canadian firms active in Ghana from mining and infrastructure, to IT and education;
- There are some 45 Canadian companies with offices in Ghana, with 10 of them using Ghana as a regional hub for West Africa;
- We provide Ghana with goods and services varying from Blackberries to drill bits. From office furniture to wheat. From railway equipment to trucks; and
- We also have a Canadian school in Ghana called Canadian Independent College, which offers from Kindergarten to Grade 12 education right here in Accra. There is also a college from Saskatchewan offering vocational training for welders in the Ashanti region looking to work in the mining industry.
In fact, trade between our two countries increased by more than 220 per cent between the years 2000 and 2012—a remarkable rate of growth. As you know, our business relations are primarily oriented towards the exchange of goods and services, the infrastructure sector and investments in the natural resource sector—particularly in mining.
I would like to take this opportunity to talk about those resources, which hold such potential for generating wealth and prosperity in this country and abroad.
Both Ghana and Canada are blessed with abundant natural resources, an inheritance which presents us with a great opportunity and a great responsibility. As we work together to extract those resources and develop them to our advantage, we must also be wise environmental and social stewards—both for our own well-being and for that of our children and grandchildren.
That is part of our responsibility as citizens of modern, progressive, democratic nations.
As leaders in Africa, you understand that success is defined by our ability to increase prosperity, stability and democracy in equal measure. When it comes to increasing our wealth and well-being in the 21st century, our choice is not “either/or,” but rather “and/both.” Careful stewardship and socially responsible development is an essential part of the prosperity equation.
With our commitment to democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights firmly in mind, I am confident that business partnerships between Ghana and Canada will continue to flourish. As our many shared successes demonstrate, we have much in common and are eager to collaborate and exchange.
Also, thanks to the ongoing communications revolution in our rapidly globalizing world, the geographical distances between us are no longer as significant as they once were. The barriers to collaboration are fewer than at any point in our history.
In short, today we have a wonderful opportunity to deepen our partnerships. This is particularly true in the sphere of business and trade, as well as in our development efforts.
Here let me encourage you to support greater partnerships between academia and business in nurturing young people. One of the ways to do this is through internships, which provide young people with valuable workplace disciplines and which bring new ideas to companies. For example, the University of Mines & Technology in Ghana is working with Memorial University in Newfoundland to develop a university-industry work experience program in the oil and gas industry – what we often call a co-operative education program.
Together, through our links in business and trade, we can help one another develop, grow and diversify. Let us therefore work together to create the smarter, more caring societies of which we dream.
I wish you continued success.