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President Frank-Walter Steinmeier receives Ghana’s ambassador to Germany, Gina Ama Blay, when the latter presented her letter of credence at the Bellevue Castle in Berlin, August 2017. Germany and Ghana established diplomatic relations 60 years ago / Photo: Embassy of Ghana, Berlin

German President Steinmeier visits Ghana and Gambia

Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, will travel to Ghana and Gambia on 11-14 December 2017 on state visits. He will be accompanied by a delegation, including the Federal Minister for Economy and Energy, Mrs Brigitte Zypries, the Deputy Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Friedrich Kitschelt, the State Minister at the German Foreign Office, Maria Böhmer, as well as a substantial business delegation.

The state visits will be the first trip to Africa by President Steinmeier since he took office in February 2017.

Among the issues he will discuss with his Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Akufo-Addo, are the deepening of the bilateral relations between both countries as well as matters concerning development in Africa.

The visit will focus on the youth in Ghana, on scientific and academic cooperation and migration, on vocational training as well as on investment and business promotion.

During the visit (11-13 November) to Accra, Steinmeier and Akufo-Addo will jointly witness the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on the Bilateral Reform Partnership between both countries, bringing up to €100 million of German government support to promote private investment into renewable energy in Ghana as well as vocational training.

The investment partnership supports Germany’s commitments under the G20 Compact with Africa, which was signed in Berlin in June 2017.

Both heads of state will also witness the signing of a cooperation agreement for the opening of a Merian International Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Ghana. The Centre, the first of its kind in Africa, has a thematic focus on sustainable governance and will be supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research.

The German president, who while not the head of government has a more than merely a ceremonial role, will also visit the start-up incubator iSpace Ghana, where he will hold conversation with young entrepreneurs who are currently being supported by Germany with the aim of developing their business and linking them with international companies.

The German president will also attend the sod-cutting ceremony at the new Ghanaian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration in Accra.

The Centre offers advice on technical and vocational education and training opportunities in Ghana, supports returnees from Europe in their reintegration, provides information on the risks of irregular migration and on the possibilities for legal migration to Europe.

Ghana is the most stable democracy in West Africa and the region’s second largest economy. It’s therefore considered as an important political partner of Germany in the region which is why Ghana is a central country in the “Africa Initiative” of the German G20 presidency.

Steinmeier is the first German president to visit The Gambia (13-14 November). His visit demonstrates recognition for the democratic change in the country and offers political support for its stabilization, according to a press statement of the German presidency. The focus of talks with Gambian leaders and civil society will be on migration and reconciliation.

The European Union resumed support to Gambia in February, with a pledge of 75 million euros ($80 million), two years after cutting aid due to human rights abuses by former President Yahya Jammeh.

President Adama Barrow has vowed to improve the foreign relations, including with the EU.

As part of a state reception in Banjul, the capital of the Gambia, a member of Afro Project, organizers of Africa Festival Würzburg, who is travelling with the German president, will organize a musical treat at a reception.

Steinmeier will return to Berlin on 14 November.

Sola Jolaoso

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