By Dr. Nana Sifa Twum, Communications and Media Consultant
The Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris, is in Ghana for a three-day official visit. Her visit to Ghana is the beginning of a weeklong trip to Africa intended to deepen U.S. relations amid global competition over the Continent’s future. In her words at the Kotoka International Airport, where she was met on arrival by her Ghanaian counterpart, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said the two countries are looking forward to this trip to further the long, very important, and enduring relationship and friendship between the US and Africa.
This is the first time a sitting Vice President of the US is visiting Ghana. Vice President Harris is the highest-profile member of President Joe Biden’s Administration to visit Africa this year, though three sitting US Presidents have paid official visits to the country at various times. Bill Clinton visited Ghana in 1998, George Bush in 2008, and Barack Obama in 2009. After Ghana, she plans to visit Tanzania and Zambia, countries described as US allies.
As part of her visit, she plans to visit a skate park and co-working space that has a recording studio for local artists. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, who accompanied her, will hold a town hall meeting with actors from a local television show and attend a Girls’ Basketball clinic. The visit, which is also focusing on entrepreneurship promotion, is a laudable one. It is envisaged that most of her itineraries will focus on young people.
This will cement the already existing U.S. International Visitor Leadership Programme, through which Ghanaian officials have become acquainted with American congressional and state legislative practices. Ghanaian youth have participated in Programmes designed to address other issues of interest. Youth exchanges and study abroad programs are also robust and growing between U.S. and Ghanaian universities and NGOs. At the state level, the State Partnership Program aims to promote greater economic ties between Ghana and U.S. institutions, including the National Guard. The United States enjoys a dynamic people-to-people relationship with Ghana.
H.E. Kamala Harris’ objective for visiting is also chiefly to promote economic growth and food security and have the opportunity to witness firsthand the extraordinary innovation and creativity that is occurring in Africa and Ghana in particular. The economic and security challenges will likely be discussed when Vice President Harris meets with President Akufo-Addo. The two are also expected to address a joint news conference. Apart from the severe economic challenges facing the country, Ghana is also wary of threats from instability in the region. Thousands of people have been killed, and millions more have been displaced.
The two leaders have met twice before, both times in Washington.
During their first meeting in September 2021, President Akufo-Addo said, our big challenge, and it is a challenge of all those who want to develop democratic institutions on our continent, is to ensure and reassure our people that democratic institutions can be a vehicle for the resolution of big problems, that is, economic development as the means to eradicate poverty on the continent.
Obviously, Ghana has been a bright spot in the region, but it is facing some very stiff headwinds.
Ghana and the US have generally been friendly since independence.
Ghana was the first country the United States Peace Corps volunteers were sent in 1961.
The two nations are signatories to twenty agreements and treaties, covering such matters as agricultural commodities, aviation, defense, economics, technical cooperation, education, extradition, postal matters, telecommunications, and treaty obligations.
It is hoped that the visit by the US Vice President will bring long-lasting economic benefits to bilateral improvement and as she expressed in her first address at the airport.
What an honour it is to be here in Ghana and on the Continent of Africa! Her excitement about the future of Africa in general and Ghana, in particular, would be real.