President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday arrived in Accra in the first leg of his six-day visit to three African nations – Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia, as part of “outreach to Africa” focussing on trade, education and boosting relations with these countries.
This is the maiden visit of any Indian President to Ghana and Ivory coast whereas to Namibia, such a visit comes after two decades.
On his arrival in Accra for a two-day visit, he was received at the airport by Ghana’s Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah- Arthur.
Even though President Mukherjee has toured number of countries in the continent, he is visiting these countries for the first time in his long political career.
“All these countries we look at as good countries in terms of a solid political system, where democracy has taken roots and these are all doing reasonably well in their regions,” Secretary (ER) Amar Sinha has said.
The President is accompanied by Minister of State for the PMO Jitendra Singh and BJP MPs – SS Ahluwalia and Mansukh L Mandaviya.
“As you know this is the part of the Outreach to Africa, which was kicked off with the visit to Morocco and Tunisia by Vice President… Then the President has taken on the responsibility of these three country visits,” he said.
In the tightly packed schedule spread till Jun 14 afternoon, President Mukherjee will attend eight events which begin today with a banquet hosted by Ghana’s President John Drahami Mahama in his honour.
The President will be given a ceremonial welcome today followed by delegation level talks at President’s House which is called Flag Staff House.
The imposing building has an Indian touch as it is constructed by an Indian company Shapoorji Pallonji.
In the delegation level talks, there are likely to be discussions on agreements on visa waiver and about two Line of Credits could also be deliberated.
President Mukherjee will also pay homage to Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah at his mausoleum Accra. He will also be unveiling a statue of Mahatma Gandhi which has been gifted by ICCR besides planting a sapling there.
“Investment in Ghana is substantial, nearly three billion dollars in various sectors. NRI’s, professionals have invested in IT, Pharmaceuticals and other areas. If you look at last three year figures, our trade has gone up nearly three times.”
“Ghana’s main trade consists of gold imports, it’s nearly 80 per cent of total trade. Ghanaian gold is in great demand in India,” Mr Sinha said.
President Mukherjee will be addressing a joint business forum meeting here which has been organised by business groups from India and Ghana.
Ghana has a very prosperous Indian-origin community, roughly around 10,000, of which 7,000 have Indian passports with some families arriving here as early as 1920’s.
The community is holding a reception for him where he will be interacting with them.
President Mukherjee will also be visiting the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Center of ICT Excellence, set up by India, and will meet its faculty and alumni. The Institute was set up by India few years ago.
“I am told that it is working very well. So it will be a great opportunity to go there and see whether we could contribute something else or help in up gradation,” he said.