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An 18-member team from the European Council African Working Group (COAFR) paid a working visit to Ghana from 3rd to 3th February 2019. The visit was meant to give the team an opportunity to directly observe the implementation of the political lines that are established in Brussels and to verify the quality of relations between the EU, its Member States and key African partners.
The COAFR Group is responsible for the management of EU external policy towards sub-Saharan Africa, including its 46 countries, the African Union and other sub-regional organisations. Their visit to Ghana is an additional sign of the importance of the partnership with this country and an opportunity to discuss the future of EU-Ghana relations with a wider audience.
Accompanied by the EU Ambassador to Ghana, H. E. Diana Acconcia, the group, led by Ms. Marie Lapierre from the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, had various engagements with government officials, state institutions, and the private sector on Monday 4th February 2019.
They also visited a coastal community at Gomoa Fetteh on 5th February 2019, to observe the EU's fisheries project and also to interact with the fisher folks along the beach, and came back to Accra for a final visit to the ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre at the Christiansburg Castle in Osu.
The group started off with a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, with the participation of a Deputy Minister, Honorable Mr. Charles Owiredu, who chaired the meeting. Also present at the meeting were officials from the Ministries of Finance, Trade, Employment and Labour Relations as well as from Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
Issues discussed bordered on the partnership between Ghana and Europe and Development Cooperation
The group also paid on official visit to the Parliament of Ghana where they met with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. They discussed issues bordering on partnership between Ghana and the European Union, Development Cooperation, Trade and Investment and Migration. The meeting was chaired by Hon. Samuel Ampratwum Sarpong, deputy chairman of the Committee.
Mr. Sarpong acknowledged the EU's support to various sectors of Ghana's economy and hoped that the current relationship will be harnessed for the benefit of the two countries.
He raised issues that were of concern to the country specifically in the areas of migration, sexual orientation and Ghana beyond Aid. He noted that government was collaborating with the appropriate agencies to tackle the issue of migration which is to create jobs for the teaming youth of the country, who are mainly economic migrants. With Ghana beyond aid, he hoped the EU can buy into that agenda and offer support to see it materialise.
Other ranking members of the parliamentary committee of foreign affairs, also raised issued of good governance, fight against corruption and greater collaboration with the EU for information and other resources.
In response, Mrs. Diana Acconcia, EU Ambassador to Ghana, said the EU operates an open door and was ready to collaborate with the government on the Ghana beyond aid agenda stressing that it was in line with the Africa-EU alliance for growth and sustainable jobs. She noted the EU was moving from donor-receiver relationship to that of partnership.
She added that great progress has been made on migration with Ghana now an example of progress to other countries. She observed that currently, the joint action plan on migration was putting on the table, efforts to help Ghana find jobs for the youth with boarder control among others.
The team was at the Impact Hub in Accra to interact with youth entrepreneurs and to understand some of the challenges that start-ups are faced with. Impact Hub Accra is an incubation hub that supports inclusive growth in Ghana through the creation of a resilient and dynamic social innovation ecosystem by developing programs, providing workspace, access to capital and connecting entrepreneurs focused on creating sustainable solutions to regional challenges in employment, financial inclusion, agriculture, health, and education.
The group visited and interacted with fisher folks along the beach at Gomoa Fetteh, one of the coastal communities where two EU funded projects are being implemented.
The projects are Far Ban Bo (meaning Protecting Fisheries Livelihoods and implemented by a consortium Care Denmark, Friends of the Nation and OXFAM International); and Far Dwuma Nkodo (meaning Securing Fisheries Livelihoods and implemented by a consortium EJF and Hen Mpoano).
This visit enabled the Member States, especially those without local representation, to come into direct contact with the realities of the country and the impact of the work of the European Union on the lives of the citizens.
The group also went on a familiarisation tour of the ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Cooperation Centre which is located at the Christiansburg Castle in Osu. They were briefed on the monitoring and surveillance activities undertaken by the centre.
The ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre is a manifestation of the African Union Maritime Security architecture which is part of the Yaoundé Process.
The European Union is supporting the Yaoundé Process through its Maritime Strategy for the Gulf of Guinea. A concrete result from this strategy is the GOGIN project which provides technical support to national structures in charge of fighting against maritime illicit activities and pollution, providing assistance to vessels and people, and strengthening blue economy as well as to transnational structures belonging to the Yaoundé maritime architecture, according to their particular role and tasks.
The group later toured the Osu Castle which served as office and residence for some Ghanaian presidents until 2013.