The new United States (US) of America Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Stephanie S. Sullivan has highlighted four key priorities to be pursued during her tenure in the country.
They encompass increasing economic growth and trade, promoting private sector driven development, improving regional security and strengthening good governance.
At her maiden formal interaction with selected Ghanaian journalists in Accra on Friday, she said the priorities, aligned with US policies for Africa, were mutually reinforcing and beneficial to both countries.
On the economy, she said her mission aimed to advance and diversify Ghana’s economy across many industries, noting that more than 100 US companies had set up businesses in Ghana with bilateral trade hitting $1.6 billion as of 2017.
She listed the on-going Millennium Challenge Cooperation Compact as an avenue through which US would continue to transform Ghana’s energy sector and provide electricity to boost businesses and other activities.
The US Build Act, passed last year, Ms Sullivan disclosed, would double the amount of funding available for flexible private sector investment in Ghana through the new US International Development Finance Cooperation.
In addition, she pointed out that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) would carry on backing of Ghana’s agricultural sector to be more competitive and as well as facilitate access to market for goods.
“Encouraging trade, while removing the barriers for both US businesses and young entrepreneurs in Ghana, will be at the forefront of my agenda. Together, the US and Ghana can boost foreign direct investment to create jobs and secure the future for Ghana’s youth,” she stated.
That is not all on the economy, as according to Ms Sullivan, the US, in tandem with its focus on women entrepreneurs, would continue to offer them support and help maximise their potential.
Such support, she said, had been formalised through the US’s Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act, signed by US President Donald Trump on January 9, this year.
The Act aims to provide for women-led ventures in developing countries, including Ghana, and help them overcome barriers such as gender-based violence, limited access to education and healthcare.
On security, she hailed Ghana for her key role in security in the region which suffers terrorism and other conflicts, noting that a Defence Cooperation Agreement signed last year between US and Ghana provided the framework for robust cooperation in capacity building of security personnel.
“We stand ready to expand cooperation through the Security Governance Initiative; from securing borders, countering terrorism to enhancing cyber and maritime security,” Ms Sullivan said.
As “participatory governance” continues to deepen in Ghana, she anticipated a peaceful election in 2020 and development of decentralisation through the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives in 2019.
She commended Ghana for her gains in democratic governance, recent progress in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and global ease of doing business.
“A strong prosperous Ghana is good for Ghanaians, good for African and good for the US,” she noted, adding that ensuring transparency, predictability, accountability in the public sector and the rule of law, is not just good governance but contribute to the development of the country’s resources.
The US Ambassador averred that her mission would build on the success of US’s long standing policies scattered across education, peace keeping, health and social interventions.
The Ghana beyond aid agenda, she said, rested on strong governance and democratic institutions, and that US would help Ghana to achieve it, in line with President Trump’s journey’ to self-reliance vision.
By Jonathan Donkor