President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, paid a 2-day State Visit to the Swiss Confederation on 28-29 February. It’s the third time in history that Switzerland organised a State Visit for a leader from Sub-Saharan Africa. The Ghanaian leader and his delegation were received by Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and her ministers, and both parties held talks on a wide range of bilateral issues.
On Friday, 28 February, the full Federal Council, led by President Simonetta Sommaruga, received the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is paying a state visit to Switzerland. The main subjects addressed during official talks at the Bernerhof included economic relations, cooperation on environmental matters, and peace and security policy.
Both sides commended the longstanding, good and close contacts between Switzerland and Ghana. “This state visit is historic for Switzerland because it is only the third from a country south of the Sahara – and the first since Ghana obtained its independence in 1957. But it is also a logical consequence of our longstanding relations characterised by mutual respect”, stressed President Simonetta Sommaruga in her welcome address.
President Akufo-Addo was greeted with military honours on Bundesplatz on Friday afternoon. The official talks at the Bernerhof were attended on the Swiss side by President Sommaruga and federal councillors Guy Parmelin and Ignazio Cassis. Among the Ghanaian delegation alongside President Akufa-Addo was Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
Economic relations are largely driven by imports of gold and cocoa to Switzerland: Ghana is Switzerland’s largest supplier of cocoa beans, and the tenth largest country of origin in terms of gold. The two delegations discussed ways in which social aspects and environmental standards could be given greater consideration in economic development and in the extraction of raw materials.
Switzerland commended the measures already taken by Ghana. As part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), for example, Ghana has committed itself to disclosing cash flows in the commodities sector. In the cocoa sector the ‘Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa’ is seeking to strengthen social, ecological and economic sustainability.
Ghana is a priority country for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO in terms of economic cooperation. The Federal Council would like to see the relevant programme extended for the period 2021-2024. Switzerland is supporting Ghana in its efforts to further diversify its economy and trade.
Federal Councillor Cassis and Ghanaian Foreign Minister Botchwey signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on environmental matters in the presence of President Sommaruga and President Akufo-Addo. Under the memorandum Ghana and Switzerland will work together closely to implement the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. They also discussed the issue of hazardous waste, an issue that both sides would like to address jointly.
The talks also addressed the issue of peace and security policy. The Federal Council delegation complimented Ghana’s strong commitment to peace policy through the UN and the African Union (AU). The two sides also discussed efforts to further boost economic cohesion on the African continent and improve prosperity through the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA). Since 2006 Switzerland has supported the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) based in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. Switzerland assured Ghana of its continued support for the centre.
In a press statement, President Akufo-Addo said: “In recent times, the ties of friendship and co-operation between Ghana and Switzerland have grown stronger. The bilateral discussions between myself and President Simonetta Sommaruga affirmed our collective resolve to strengthen relations between Ghana and Switzerland on the basis of trade and investment co-operation. We intend also to collaborate in the promotion and protection of human rights all over the globe, and in the maintenance of world peace.”
In accordance with tradition, a gala dinner was held on the evening of the first day of the state visit. On day two, President Sommaruga and President Akufo-Addo previewed an exhibition, due to open in March, of work by the Ghanaian artist El Anatsui at Bern’s Museum of Fine Arts. Given that Ghana is Switzerland’s largest supplier of cocoa beans, the programme was rounded off with a visit to a chocolate factory. The state visit ended on Saturday afternoon when President Sommaruga bid farewell to President Akufo-Addo in Zurich.
Report distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Federal Council, Switzerland