Congratulatory Address delivered by Gernot Erler, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, at Ghana’s 50th Independence Anniversary Reception

06.03.2007 - Speech

-- Check against delivery --

Ambassador Kesse, Excellencies, distinguished guests,

Ghana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence is an auspicious day and a good reason to celebrate. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to convey the congratulations of the German Federal Government and the people of Germany.

The 6 March 1957 was a significant day, not only for Ghana. When Kwame Nkrumah, the father of Ghana’s Independence, announced that Ghana was FREE – finally – this short, but big word echoed all over the African continent and beyond where peoples were standing up for self-determination and self-rule. 50 years ago, the people of Ghana lit a torch that became an inspiration and a guiding light for millions attempting to prise the shackles of colonialism.

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first Prime Minister and, from 1960, the First President of the Republic of Ghana, was aware of the special role his country was thus about to assume. He was not contented with what he had achieved for Ghana alone. He did not forget the fate of his fellow Africans, but strived for an Africa united in freedom. His Pan-African visions are still up to date. In fact only nowadays, the African Union is discussing how to further evolve into something that Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of 50 years ago. One could say that the African Union is a kind of grandchild of the Union of African States that Nkrumah had conceived in the years after Ghana’s independence.

After going through a difficult period of instability, Ghana has turned into an African success story again. The progress made in the areas of democratization and economic consolidation serves as a point of reference for many countries, especially in the conflict-plagued West African region. Ghana was among the first countries to agree to participate in the African Peer Review, which is impressive proof that Ghana is committed to sustainable development, good governance and the principles of transparency and responsibility.

Moreover, Ghana’s commitment to creating peace and security, especially in Africa, but also in other parts of the world, deserves to be mentioned. Ghanaian soldiers have been successfully involved in a number of UN peacekeeping missions. In significant positions, some distinguished Ghanaians contribute to further peaceful solutions to worrying situations. Just recently, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the President of the ECOWAS-Commission, has made successful efforts to break the deadlock in the negotiations between the people and government of Guinea. President Kufuor was elected Chairperson of the African Union in January. This honourable and important office was not only conferred upon him as a gift in view of the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence, but mainly because Africa has faith in his ability to help expand the zone of peace and stability in the continent. Without a doubt, the most famous son of Ghana is Kofi Annan who earned numerous merits serving the world as Secretary General of the United Nations for the past ten years.

The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra has become a recognized institution where civilian peace workers and soldiers from many African countries have improved their skills. This institution, that Germany has been supporting since its construction, also constitutes a good example for the close and excellent cooperation between our two countries.

Ambassador Kesse, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence is also a suitable occasion to remember the early days of the enduring friendship between the Republic of Ghana and the Federal Republic of Germany. For it was only a few months after Ghana’s Independence that Germany embraced Ghana as a new member of the international community and established diplomatic relations with the former Gold Coast – hence another occasion to toast tonight.

Ghana has long been a priority partner for German development cooperation. The economic ties are also very tight. Germany is one of Ghana’s top trading partners, and a large number of German companies have opened subsidiaries in Ghana.

The excellence of our bilateral relations is well reflected in the frequency of our mutual visits. In January, I had the pleasure to spend four inspiring days in Ghana accompanying Federal President Horst Köhler. We enjoyed the warn and sincere hospitality of the Ghanaians and had a wonderful time. No one who was there will ever forget the splendid reception President Kufuor gave at the Castle. In the course of this visit, not even two months ago, President Köhler held his 2nd Africa Forum in Accra, the first one to be staged in Africa. The event was co-hosted by the two Presidents, which underlines the special relationship between our two countries. In June 2006, President Kufuor had met the Federal President here in Berlin. Together, the two Presidents watched the “Black Stars”’ (the Ghanaian football team) World Cup match against Italy. In 2004, Germany’s then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited Ghana, and, only two years before, President Kufuor had paid an official visit to Germany.

Ambassador Kesse, Excellencies, distinguished guests,

50 years after the country was proclaimed a sovereign independent nation, Ghana is looking back at its glorious beginning, while having set out for an even brighter future. By 2020, Ghana intends to have achieved a balanced economy and middle-income country status. Be assured that Germany will continue to support Ghana's striving for progress and development in a spirit of partnership.

Ambassador Kesse, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to ask you to join me in raising our glasses to the health and happiness of the President of the Republic of Ghana, John A. Kufuor, to the successful work of the Government of Ghana and to the happiness and well-being of the people of Ghana.

Related content

Top of page