U.S Ambassador lauds government for promoting inclusive growth in Northern Ghana

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Tamale, July 21, GNA – Madam Virginia Palmer, United States Ambassador to Ghana has lauded government for promoting inclusive economic growth in the northern part of the country saying it is important for the peace and stability of the country.

She said “I have a lot of respect for the way that the Ghanaian Government recognises that inclusive economic growth in the north is critical both to Ghana’s economic development overall but also to peace and stability and preventing violent extremists taking advantage of conflicts or lack of development” to perpetrate their activities.
She was speaking during an encounter with journalists in Tamale on Wednesday evening as part of her first official trip outside Accra since assuming her responsibilities as the United States Ambassador to Ghana in April, this year.
The Ambassador, while in the north, will undertake various activities including attending a Power Africa event, meeting with the Northern Regional Minister, touring the Nuts for Growth factory, and the launch of Global Shea Alliance and MasterCard Foundation’s Shea Business Empowerment Programme, visiting an open defecation free community and a health care facility in the Sagnarigu Municipality, meeting with Women in Agriculture Platform representatives, meeting with President of the Savannah Region Queen Mothers Association and meeting with Mandela Washington Fellowship and United States Ghana Exchange Programme Alumni.
Madam Palmer said “We have 130 million dollars of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programmes in the north. North is a priority for us. The role of the north is particularly important to the work that the USAID does and to keeping Ghana secure and stable amid increasingly rough neighbourhoods’. We are concerned about democratic backsliding in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea, and Ghana’s example is hugely important to that.”
She further commended the government on the Accra Initiative where the government recognised that there was an increasing threat from the Sahel and close door West African countries, which were stable and democratic, were increasingly vulnerable to attacks as witnessed in recent days in Togo, Benin, and Côte d’Ivoire.
She said, “So, the Accra Initiative was the government’s leadership with her neighbours to cooperate on intelligence, share information and or work on inclusive economic growth in our northern borders to ensure that we stay peaceful and democratic, and if that happens then the rest of the economy of entire West Africa and the continent will also be strengthened.”
Madam Palmer spoke about corruption, saying “Corruption undermines everything that we and the Government of Ghana want to do. And so, we provide support to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for those corruption cases, and we provide human rights and professional training for the Police to help investigate those cases, but we are trying to provide practical assistance to the people that are investigating and holding accountable officials and politicians, but it is a serious problem and must be addressed.”
She said addressing corruption was also important for the business climate adding “One of my priorities is to promote bilateral trade and investment. We have 2.7 billion dollars in bilateral trade and investment, but companies will continue to come if they believe they can operate transparently, and the business environment is predictable. So, being free from corruption is important to that.”
She spoke highly of the country’s human rights credentials saying, “Ghana has a really well-deserved reputation for respecting human rights of its citizens, and one of the things I have been reflecting on is Ghana was a beacon for American civil rights activists.”
She, however, expressed worry about the LGBTQI Bill being considered by Parliament saying “I worry about the LGBT Bill potentially really undermining that reputation and causing harm to Ghanaian citizens, who will be afraid for their safety. There is a lot of concern that the Bill will be inconsistent with the Constitution and our international obligations or commitments. I hope that Ghanaians’ human rights will continue to be respected.”

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