Around this time every year the Danish embassy in Accra holds a big festive reception to celebrate our Constitution Day – June 5. This is an opportunity to recall what Denmark stands for. And, equally important, this is always a great occasion to celebrate the close relationship we have with Ghana. Unfortunately, due to COVID we have to postpone this wonderful event. Especially unfortunate, because this year we have so much more to celebrate, as 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Denmark and Ghana and the onset of a new era, where strengthened commercial collaboration and strategic partnerships take centre stage. An important milestone in the history of our two countries.
Denmark was one of the first European countries to recognise Ghana after its independence, and we have enjoyed a solid, but at the same time vibrant cooperation ever since, a cooperation that was further intensified from 1992 with the establishment of the 4th Republic. For many Ghanaians Denmark has in the course of three decades become synonymous with DANIDA – and substantial Danish development aid to Ghana. Denmark has been a trusted partner to Ghana, and we are proud to have contributed to long-term development results in a number of sectors such as water and sanitation, transport, healthcare, as well as development of the private sector.
The progress made since 1992 has been significant and in Denmark we have followed closely the positive economic developments in Ghana over the period, resulting in Ghana today being a lower middle income country, playing an increasingly important role both regionally and globally. We have strongly supported Ghana’s vision to move beyond aid and position itself as a regional hub for trade and investment in West Africa. Both the placement of the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra and the increasing interest Danish businesses are showing in the Ghanaian market are great indications of the advancements that have been made in this direction. It is in line with these developments and decisions that we at the Danish Embassy in Accra last year completed our own transition from aid-to-trade. The path ahead will not mean business as usual, but it is important for me to underline that it surely will mean more business, along with a sustained focus on political cooperation.
Our trade team and strategic sector counsellors already forge collaboration and partnerships between Danish and Ghanaian companies and authorities, exploiting mutually beneficial commercial opportunities within key sectors like health, water, maritime and not least food and agriculture. Concrete examples of how Danish companies and innovations are contributing to increasing productivity in the agricultural sector are available overleaf. As the world increasingly becomes digital, we are also exploring new business opportunities in tech and digital solutions, where Ghana has strong ambitions and Denmark is well positioned to contribute, as one of the most digitized countries in the world. The potential gains in terms of improved ease of doing business, transparency and accountability are significant.
While the direction of the Danish – Ghanaian partnership may be new, the values in which it is grounded are not. I am pleased to note that our shared commitment to democratic governance, freedom and the rule of law remains firm. Just as Denmark supports Ghana’s efforts to maintain its position as a beacon of democracy and a regional oasis of peace and stability, our shared values are also visible in the international arena where both countries are active participants in peacekeeping and peace operations around the world. Regionally, we are also aligned in our common goal of contributing to the peace process in the Sahel and in combatting piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. In support of the latter, my government has recently announced the dispatch of a naval vessel for 5 months from November this year, in addition to intensified civil support for investigation and prosecution of crimes committed at sea.
Danish-Ghanaian relations have been mutually beneficial for both countries for 60 years. This is a reason for commemoration and celebration. But, I truly believe that the future relationship holds even more potential and we look forward to explore this together with our Ghanaian partners and friends. It’s not business as usual – it’s more business, to our mutual benefit.