The President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, arrived in the country yesterday for a two-day state visit expected to consolidate the relations between the two countries. He was met on arrival by a Ghana government delegation, led by the Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, on the first leg of his six-day African tour that will also take him to neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire and Namibia.
The Air India aircraft carrying the Indian leader touched down at the Kotoka International Airport at exactly 3.45 p.m. amid the colourful display of Ghana’s rich traditions by the Ghana Dance Ensemble and cheers from flag-waving students of the Delhi Public School (DPS) International. Accompanied by a Minister of State, Members of Parliament, senior officials and a business delegation, President Mukherjee is expected to sign agreements with President John Dramani Mahama on a joint commission and the renewal of a cultural exchange programme.
With the red carpet rolled out for him, a bespectacled Mr Mukherjee, dressed in black suit over a black shoe, took calculated steps to inspect a guard of honour mounted by the Ghana Armed Forces. Mr Mukherjee inspected a guard of honour mounted by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
Friendship In a terse statement, the soft-spoken Indian leader reiterated the friendship between Ghana and India and said his coming to Ghana was to consolidate the bond between them, as well as explore ways of improving the lives of their citizenry.
He is the first India President to visit Ghana since the two countries established diplomatic relations more than 50 years ago. Apart from ministerial visits to Ghana, the most high-profile Indian leader to visit Ghana was Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1995.
Schedule The itinerary of the Indian President includes the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a gift from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, and the signing of a number of agreements which may include visa waivers. He will also plant a seedling at the Flagstaff House, which was built with Indian assistance.
He is scheduled to visit the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of ICT Excellence in Accra, which was set up with an Indian assistance of US$2.86 million, and hold bilateral talks with President Mahama, which will be followed by delegation-level talks.
A number of agreements are ready for signing, including the setting up of the Ghana/India Joint Commission and the renewal of an existing cultural exchange programme. President Mukherjee is also scheduled to deliver an address at a joint business forum at the University of Ghana, Legon.
Additionally, he will interact with the Indian community at a reception to be organised in his honour by the Indian High Commission.
President Mahama will host a state banquet in honour of the visiting President and his delegation at the State House. Since the establishment of relations between the two countries, more than 50 years ago, fuelled by the friendship between Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, diplomatic, political and trade ties have been growing. Indian footprint According to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Indian companies have invested in more than 600 projects, with total investment of almost $1 billion, since 1994. India has an impressive economic footprint in Ghana.
Aside from some of its citizens contributing significantly to job creation, India has been participating in Ghana’s development by providing assistance in the setting up of projects through the provision of lines of credit and grants. As of January 2015, the government of India had extended lines of credit amounting to US$224 million to Ghana for various development projects.
While Ghana’s main (traditional) exports to India have been gold, cocoa and timber products, India’s major exports to Ghana include pharmaceuticals, telecommunication equipment, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, plastics, steel and cement.
The Indian government also provided a $24-million grant for the revamping of the Komenda Sugar Factory to support the government’s effort to reduce the country’s sugar import bill.