A news feature by James Amoh Junior, GNA
Accra, March 25, GNA – Bilateral relations is a key building block of international relations, covering relationships between the home country and individual foreign states.
The United States and Ghana have, thus, managed a close and enduring friendship rooted in mutual commitment to freedom and democratic values over several decades.
While the official bilateral relationship of both sovereign countries dates to Ghana’s independence in 1957, its unofficial, personal ties go back even further.
Thousands of Ghanaians have been educated in the United States. Through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and other exchange programmes, according to US State Department website.
Ghana also attracts hundreds of American students each year seeking to experience the rich history and culture of West Africa.
These types of cross-cultural exchanges have created long-lasting networks across the United States and Africa.
According to information from the US Embassy in Ghana, Ghana is the first country in the world to accept Peace Corps Volunteers, and the programme continues to lead in training and innovation.
Currently, there are approximately 150 volunteers in Ghana. The volunteers work in agriculture, education and health sectors in all regions of the country.
The United States is Ghana’s largest bilateral development partner. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) serves as the lead U.S. government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realise their potential.
The U.S Embassy in Ghana says, through USAID, the American people invest more than $145 million in Ghana each year in agriculture, health, education, energy, and democracy and governance programmes.
The new Millennium Challenge Compact II, which entered into force in 2016, invested nearly $500 million to support the transformation of Ghana’s power sector and stimulate private investment.
Also in 2016, the United States contributed more than $7 million to help ensure Ghana’s peaceful, transparent and credible elections.
The United States and Ghana work together on various defense and law enforcement issues. Both countries’ militaries cooperate in numerous joint training exercises through U.S. Africa Command.
The Bureau of African Affairs, U.S Department of State says “U.S. goals in Ghana are to spur economic growth through increased trade and investment, invest in people, promote peace and regional security, and improve accountable governance and strengthen institutions. The U.S. government is the largest bilateral development partner in Ghana.”
Bilateral Economic/Trade Relations
Ghana has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, but the country’s long-term economic growth is challenged by high energy costs; high levels of government debt, including the energy sector; low access to credit; high borrowing costs; low agricultural productivity; a business climate that restricts private sector growth; and regional trade barriers.
The USAID continues to help Ghana to address these challenges through programmes that promote a more diversified economy with a broader export base, while addressing the long-term economic impacts of COVID-19; increased private sector-led investment; expanded use of affordable energy; healthy, skilled citizens participating in economic and social development processes; and increased incomes.
USAID/Ghana has facilitated access to over $90 million in financing for more than 63,000 beneficiaries in diverse areas ranging from seed and fertilizer supply to strengthening value chain links to agricultural processing.
Information on the U.S Embassy in Ghana website indicates that through the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, USAID/Ghana has forged 10 partnerships with Ghanaian businesses to catalyse over $70 million of investment, export over $200 million worth of goods, and create over 25,000 jobs.
Also, under the Power Africa initiative, USAID/Ghana has reduced Ghana’s energy debt by $4.7 billion and removed 10 million cubic tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The Agency has also connected 225,000 households to electricity and integrated 50 megawatts of solar energy with a hydroelectric dam in northern Ghana, an innovative model that can be applied throughout West Africa.
Ghana completed a five-year $547 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact in 2012 and a second, five-year $498 million MCC compact focused on the power sector entered into force on September 6, 2016.
Ghana exports goods to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Feed the Future, Power Africa, Trade Africa, and Partnership for Growth country.
The United States is among Ghana’s principal trading partners, with bilateral trade between the two countries reaching $1.2 billion in 2015.
The U.S. Department of State continues to offer many programmes for non-U.S. citizens, including Ghanaians wishing to go to the U.S. for cultural, educational, or professional exchange. The United States continues to be a strong partner for Education with Ghana.
The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supports Ghana’s Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to improve learning achievement for children attending public primary schools with a focus on reading in English and other official national languages of instruction, math instruction, school management, and accountability.
USAID Learning, a six-year $76 million programme, is the flagship project of the United States government’s support to children attending basic school in Ghana.
At the secondary education level, the U.S. Embassy offers exchange programmes for both teachers and students who have demonstrated excellent academic and leadership skills.
The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme offers a full academic year in an American public high school and a host family homestay.
Since 2006, over 300 Ghanaian SHS students from every region have participated in the YES programme.
For teachers at the secondary level, both the Fulbright Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) and the International Leaders in Education Programme (ILEP) provide secondary school teachers with unique opportunities to develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills, and increase their knowledge about the United States.
“The U.S. Embassy conservatively estimates that over 100 of these types of partnerships exist among American and Ghanaian universities, largely due to the personal connections, reflecting our close bilateral and people-to-people ties,” a former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan said in an article.
Over 3,200 Ghanaian students studied at 630 U.S. colleges and universities in the 2018-19 academic year, making Ghana the third-highest sender of students from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States, after Kenya and Nigeria.
The USAID’s integrated health programming supports the Government of Ghana in the areas of health system strengthening, maternal, reproductive, newborn and child health, as well as malaria, HIV, social protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, global health security, and COVID-19.
USAID supports the Government of Ghana to build a more resilient health system and prepare Ghana to face future health emergencies.
In April 2022, the USAID launched a Five-Year $29 Million Effort to Support Healthy Behaviours in Ghana.
The new flagship social and behaviour change activity, is a culmination of decades of partnership and engagement with the Ghana Health Service.
The United States, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) continues to support Ghana in health.
It is unsurprising that the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Madam Virginia Palmer, this week, announced $5 million in new U.S. funding to improve the performance of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and ensure quality of health services in Ghana.
Particularly, The NHIA-USAID partnership aims to improve NHIA’s capacity to digitalize all its information systems.
The long-standing relation between the United States and Ghana would continue to remain stronger.
From Sunday March 26 to Wednesday March 29, 2023, this long-standing diplomatic friendship is expected to receive a boost with the visit to Ghana of the first female US Vice-President, Kamala Harris.
Like her predecessors, Kamala’s three-day trip is expected to strengthen the US’ partnership with Ghana, while advancing efforts on security and economic prosperity.
The visit aims “to discuss regional and global priorities, including our shared commitment to democracy, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, food security, and the effects of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, among other issues,” the US Embassy in Ghana, said.