President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says there is every reason for Ghana and Benin to develop strong, strategic bonds based, inter alia, on the common democratic values that promote human dignity and solidarity.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the two countries are recognised as beacons of democracy on the continent and have in the 1990s resorted to the use of the ballot, and not the gun, as the preferred means of electing their leaders.
President Akufo-Addo made this known on Wednesday, 11th October, 2017, when the President of Benin, Patrice Athanase Talon, paid a day’s working visit to Ghana.
Speaking at a lunch held in honour of the Beninois President, President Akufo-Addo noted that “I believe it is a good omen that our peoples elected us into office around the same period, and it is, accordingly, incumbent on us to work together to bring progress and prosperity to them.”
He continued, “We are both firm believers in the primacy of the private sector, and the role it must play in the development of our national economies. I am also happy that we share a vision of the industrial development of our economies, from ones dependent on the export of raw materials to value-added, industrial-based economies. This is the surest path to prosperity for our peoples.”
The visit of President Talon, in the view of President Akufo-Addo, comes at a time when the bilateral ties between the two countries continue to evolve within a framework of cordiality and mutual respect.
Despite the good relations that exist between the countries, President Akufo-Addo bemoaned the fact that only one meeting of the Permanent Joint Commission of Co-operation (PJCC), has been held, a meeting which was held in Accra.
“We need to reconvene another session of the PJCC, and I propose that we hold the next meeting in Cotonou as soon as possible. Not only will the PJCC serve as a platform for enriching commercial relations between our countries, it will also facilitate the implementation of regional instruments such as the Common External Tariff of ECOWAS.
Indeed, our shared interests, as members of the Co-Prosperity Alliance Zone (COPAZ), together with Togo and Nigeria, enjoins us to ensure that we forge an even closer partnership that will inure to the benefit of our citizens, even within the context of ECOWAS. We need to revitalize this Alliance,” President Akufo-Addo indicated.
He assured President Talon that Ghana will continue to co-operate with Benin within other multilateral frameworks, such as the Volta Basin Authority, to promote and safeguard the equitable sharing of common water resources of the Authority.
“We should endeavour to establish direct flights between Accra and Cotonou to facilitate the movement of persons and goods. We should further try to establish direct shipping lines, linking Accra to Cotonou, to facilitate trade between us. We need to push for the Sealink Shipping Project, an ECOWAS initiative, to help link our two countries,” he added.
With Ghana and Benin being important members of the ECOWAS community, President Akufo-Addo, once again, reiterated his commitment to strengthening the ECOWAS Community, and was confident that President Patrice Talon is too.
“With West Africa’s population set to reach some 500 million people in 20 years time, there are immense opportunities to bring prosperity to our region with hard work, enterprise and creativity.
The time for West African integration is now. Ghana and Benin should be at the forefront of the process that will convert ECOWAS into a true regional market. A functioning, common regional market in ECOWAS has to be a very fundamental objective of all of our peoples and governments in the region,” President Akufo-Addo added.