Ghana-India relations:Another step forward...

It started as a personal friendship between Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Indian’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru blossomed into full political, diplomatic and trade ties worth more than $ 3 billion.


Ghana-India relationship will climb to another level on Sunday with the two-day visit of President Pranab Mukherjee, becoming the first India President to visit Ghana since the two countries stitched their relationship  more than five decades ago.

Apart from other ministerial visits to Ghana, the most high-profile Indian leader to have visited Ghana had been Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1995.

During his trip, Mr Mukherjee will be accompanied by a Minister of State, four Members of Parliament, senior officials and a business delegation and is expected to sign agreements on a joint Commission and renewal of Cultural Exchange Programme with President John Dramani Mahama.
The India President will address a Joint Business Forum and the students and faculty of University of Ghana besides having an interaction with the Indian community at a reception organised at the Indian High Commission.

He will also unveil a statue of Mahatma Gandhi gifted by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

Feet and eyes in India

For many Ghanaians who had not stepped into the bowels of the world’s largest democracy—India—their imaginary walk on the streets of Indian cities and towns, including Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Rajkot, has been through the evergreen Bollywood, the thriving Indian movie industry.

Long before Bollywood began capturing the soul and heart of Ghanaians, the foundation stone of the long-standing relationship between the two countries had been laid by Ghana's first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and India's first Prime Minister, Mr Jawaharlal Nehru.

So deep is the friendship that the road on which the Indian High Commission is located has been named after Mr Nehru.

A growing economic partnership 
The flames of the two champions of South-South cooperation were carried further by hundreds of Indian merchants who have made Ghana their home, building flourishing businesses.

Predominantly, the Indian-origin people in Ghana are of Sindhi origin whose ancestors first came to the country more than 70 years ago. The Indian Association of Ghana was for instance founded in 1937. They are mostly in the trading business.

However, some of them have started moving to small-scale industries like pharmaceuticals, plastics, cement, and steel products.

Over the years, the likes of  Stallion Group of companies, Melcom, the Mohinani Group, TATA, Mahindra, Ashok Leyland, Airtel, Larsen & Toubro, NIIT, Blow-Chem, , have made significant contributions to the Ghanaian economy.

According to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Indian companies have invested in more than 600 projects with total investment of almost $ 1 billion since 1994.

India has an impressive economic footprint in Ghana. Besides some of its citizens contributing significantly to job creation, India has been participating in Ghana's development by providing assistance in setting up projects through provision of Lines of Credit and grants.

 As at January 2015, the government of India has extended lines of credit amounting to US$224 million to the Government of Ghana for various developmental projects being undertaken by the latter.

Indian footprint 
While Ghana's main (traditional) exports to India has been gold, cocoa and timber products, India’s major exports to Ghana include pharmaceuticals, telecommunication, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment, plastics, steel and cement.

Significant among infrastructure landmarks India has in Ghana is the seat of the Presidency, the Flag Staff House, financed with a credit facility from Indian and was constructed by Shapoorji Pallonji and Co. Ltd, an Indian construction firm. 

Mr Mukherjee is also expected to visit the India-Ghana Kofi Annan Centre of ICT Excellence in Accra, set up with a $2.86 million Indian assistance.

The Indian government also provided a $24-million grant for the revamping of the Komenda Sugar Factory to support the government’s effort to reduce the country’s sugar import bill.

In the educational sector, Ghana has been a recipient of India's assistance through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, which came into effect in 1960s to help the developing and the under-developed countries to strengthen their human resource by way of technical training in various academic, professional, vocational and technological institutions of India.

According to the Indian High Commission in Ghana figures, more than 1500 Ghanaians have benefited so far from  the  ITEC training programmes in India in  fields including renewable energy banking and finance, mass communications and languages, quality control, human resource management and criminal investigations.

In truth, India lacks China’s deep pockets.  Analysts say India has often struggled to compete directly with China, especially for natural resources such as oil and gas.

As a result, India has embarked on a charm offensive as it seeks to stay relevant to resource-rich Africa.

Over the years, officials of the BRIC country are keen to remind African leaders of their common past of anti-colonisation struggles, as well as offer India's expertise in areas such as information technology and human resources.

It is probably for this reason that the Kofi Annan-Indian Centre of Excellence in ICT was established in 2003.

India’s energy sector worth celebrating 

At a time Ghana’s electricity supply is suffering an epileptic seizure, there is a lot to learn from India, especially in terms of its knowledge in renewable energy.

Through the effective implementation of existing policies, India’s wind energy capacity could double over the next five years, latest estimates of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) show.

A 21.6 GW wind energy contributes about 67 per cent to the total renewable energy capacity in India.  The country’s solar power capacity also crossed 3 GW in November 2014.

On the foreign policy front, there are indications that political and diplomatic ties between the two countries will continue to flourish, given experience from past relations.

What Ghana needs from India
Going forward, the path to real economic transformation in Ghana does not lie in the export of its raw materials and imports of finished goods.

It lies, first, in developing the country’s human capital and making manufacturing a basis for trade. These are all areas in which India has developed significant capacity.

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