Relations between South Africa and Ghana will experience a new impetus as the two countries have upgraded their relations to a Bi-National Commission (BNC).
The BNC, which will be led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Ghanaian counterpart President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will meet bi-annually alternating between Accra and Tshwane in order to build on the bilateral and economic cooperation between the two countries.
The BNC was announced on Thursday after official talks during the State visit by Akufo-Addo in Tshwane aimed at strengthening the already good political, economic and social relations between South Africa and Ghana.
Up until now, the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) oversaw the implementation of existing 22 bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding that the two countries share.
Speaking to media after their official talks, President Ramaphosa said the visit was characterized by a renewed commitment to forge a closer partnership to deepen bilateral cooperation.
“We have noted with great satisfaction the growing bilateral cooperation, as demonstrated by the existence of the bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding.
“These agreements cover a wide range of fields including trade and investment, science and technology, defence, energy, transport, environment, arts and culture and tourism,” said President Ramaphosa.
To ensure that the agreements are fully implemented, the two Heads of State have mandated their officials to ensure the full implementation of all signed legal instruments for the mutual benefit of the two countries and their peoples.
In the area of trade, the two countries noted the increased economic cooperation and trade relations and they have committed to creating an enabling environment to ease the manner of doing business in the respective countries.
“We have noted the increasing investments between the two countries… At the business forum, we will be encouraging businesspeople to take advantage of the conducive environment in our two countries, an environment supported by the level of cooperation that we have,” said President Ramaphosa.
Already the two countries have identified new key sectors for investment to boost economic growth and development. These sectors include manufacturing, agro-processing, infrastructure development, mining, energy and tourism.
South Africa and Ghana have welcomed the strides being made by the AU Member States to advance continental integration, especially the launch of the Free Trade Area Agreement that will facilitate the required intra-African trade and investment.
“There is a need for close collaboration between our two countries for the purpose of the African continent to ensure the development of our continent. We need to ensure that we are masters of our own destinies by building an Africa free of foreign control and free of foreign domination, which can respond to the aspirations of our people.
“This is the big challenge currently confronting the leaders in the continent,” said President Akufo-Addo who committed to partnering with President Ramaphosa in this regard.
The two counterparts also discussed the impact of corruption on the development of the continent echoing that it is an issue that they can no longer run away from.
The African Union itself has estimated that every year over US$ 148 billion are drained out the continent through various corrupt activities and acts, representing about 25% of Africa’s average GDP.
“The hour has come for African leaders to tackle corruption which is the elephant in the room… It must be the heads of government who lead the charge in fighting corruption,” President Ramaphosa said.
Both Presidents described the visit as historic, as it was President Ramaphosa’s first incoming State visit as a Head of State.
“The era of President Ramaphosa will be an important one in the history of South African. I am here to renew our friendship. We want our connections to be more heightened,” said President Akufo-Addo extending his hand of solidary for greater partnership.
The two Presidents are expected to address the South Africa-Ghana Business Forum, which will be held in Centurion. The South Africa-Ghana Business Forum will bring together businesspeople from both countries to explore further trade and economic cooperation.