Speaking at his very last U.S. Independence day celebration in Ghana on July 4, 2018, Ambassador Jackson sincerely thanked the people of Ghana for the warm welcome and friendship he has been offered throughout his tenure as ambassador. He also praised Ghana’s partnership with the United States for the past sixty-one (61) years, which continues to stimulate economic growth and development for both countries. He said: “Our relationship began centuries ago, at one of the lowest points in history. But our shared heritage serves as a reminder that we can overcome historic evils and create new beginnings. We are as close today as we have ever been”. Read the ambassador’s full remarks below.
Remarks by Ambassador Robert P. Jackson
U.S. Embassy Accra
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 | 6 p.m.
Your Excellency, the Vice President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia,
Honorable U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross,
Honorable Minister for Lands and Natural Resources John Peter Amewu,
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State,
Honorable Members of the Council of State and of Parliament,
Your Excellencies and Dear Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps,
Ni Me, Na Me, Nana Nom, Traditional and Religious Leaders,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Akwaaba! Babs and I, along with my outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission, Melinda Tabler-Stone; my incoming Deputy Chief of Mission, Christopher Lamora; and all our colleagues, welcome you to the U.S. Embassy.
Tonight we celebrate the 242nd anniversary of U.S. independence. We honor the pioneers who first came to the United States for religious liberty and economic opportunity. We honor the long tradition of immigrants — from every nation on earth — who have enriched our country. And we reaffirm that we will continue seeking to form that more perfect Union, establish Justice, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
As we considered our theme for this year, I kept coming back to New Orleans. It is one of my favorite cities, in part because, to me, the spirit of New Orleans represents the spirit of America. New Orleans is a vibrant, diverse city that embraces its historic influences — French, Spanish, African American, and many others from around the world. It is a city that has bounced back from tragedy, demonstrating the resiliency of our people, and the belief that — together — we can overcome challenges and move forward. It is a city that knows how to celebrate life and to let the good times roll.
I see some of that same spirit here in Ghana — in the way Ghanaians blend modern and traditional Africa; in the way you keep leading the region forward; and, most importantly, in Ghana’s celebrated religious, linguistic, and ethnic tolerance.
Today we also mark 61 years of partnership between the United States and Ghana. Our relationship began centuries ago, at one of the lowest points in history. But our shared heritage serves as a reminder that we can overcome historic evils and create new beginnings. We are as close today as we have ever been. More than 13,000 Americans have made Ghana their home. More than 2,000 Americans study at Ghanaian universities. Thousands more visit every year.
An even greater number of Ghanaians have made their homes in the United States. More than 3,000 Ghanaian students are enrolled at American colleges and universities. Tourists travel back and forth every day, as do entrepreneurs seeking new commercial opportunities. Thanks in part to them, our bilateral trade exceeded $1.6 billion in 2017.
I am honored that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is joining us tonight. Mr. Secretary, your visit is evidence of the importance the U.S. government places on strengthening trade relations with Ghana. As the gateway to Africa, Ghana plays a key role for U.S. companies developing their presence on the continent. KFC, Hertz and Avis have been operating in Ghana for years. Since I arrived, many others have joined this market — Pizza Hut, Harley-Davidson, Pinkberry, Uber and, most recently, Burger King — to name just a few. We are proud of the commercial successes we have achieved together. I am particularly proud of the principles of transparency and corporate social responsibility observed by American companies around the world.
These investments create employment opportunities for Ghanaians and help stimulate economic growth and development. At the same time, Ghanaian entrepreneurs — many of them beneficiaries of U.S. government exchange programs — are creating new opportunities across the country. A thriving, prosperous Ghana is in America’s national security interest.
As I close my diplomatic career and prepare to become a private citizen, let me affirm what a special privilege it has been for me to represent the United States of America. I have always believed that my purpose was to make people’s lives better, and that by channeling the resources of the U.S. government, I could help others be healthier, better educated, more prosperous and more secure. That is what has motivated me to get up and go to work every morning of my career. I enjoy serving in Africa because, over the course of two or three years, you can really see the results of your work. I’d like to highlight what, to me, are the most meaningful successes of the past two-and-a-half years.
As a former teacher, I believe deeply in the importance of education and literacy. I am so proud of our Partnership for Education program with the Ministry of Education. Over the past two years, we have reached 700,000 primary school students with approximately five million books and teacher training aids, to help children learn to read in 11 indigenous languages and English. We have trained more than 30,000 Ghanaian educators in phonics and reading.
I am also proud of our health partnership, which has saved countless lives. Ghanaian citizens are leading normal, productive lives thanks to antiretroviral care funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Malaria-related deaths have declined dramatically. Maternal and child health care services have significantly improved. I congratulate Ghana for becoming the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate trachoma, a contagious bacterial eye infection that afflicted many people. These successes have been earned by Ghana’s health professionals, and by successive governments from both major parties who believe in the strength of our partnerships for health.
As I mentioned last year at this time, Ghana demonstrated its military leadership and professionalism by becoming the first African partner nation to train U.S. Army forces. With our new Defense Cooperation Agreement, we will continue to work side by side to address threats to global peace and security.
Finally, I am proud that we are making unreliable electricity a problem of the past. Through our Millennium Challenge Power Compact, Ghanaians will have reliable and affordable energy — energy that will promote greater industrialization and opportunities to add value to Ghana’s exports.
In short: The United States is working with Ghana to build a bright future.
As I close, I want to sincerely thank the people of Ghana for the warm welcome and friendship you have offered me. To my embassy team – American and Ghanaian: Your service makes the United States — and me — very proud. I particularly thank my extraordinary deputy, Melinda Tabler-Stone, and welcome her successor, Chris Lamora.
Special thanks go to Margaret Langer, Maurice Jackson, and all of the other people who worked so hard to make this event a success.
I must also extend my deepest gratitude to all the sponsors who made this year’s Independence Day celebration possible, through their generous contributions: African Aviation/American Airlines, American Tower, American Products Company Ltd., Authentix, Aviation Alliance Limited / Delta, Belstar Capital, Cargill, Citibank, Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana, Consolidated Shipping Agencies LTD (CONSHIP), Cummins Ghana, Dow Chemical West Africa LLC, Exxon Mobil, Forewin Ghana Limited, Halliburton, Harley Davidson (GMEA Group), Herbalife, Hess Ghana Exploration LTD/Aker Energy, General Electric, IAS/FEDEX Ghana, Ibistek Crowley, Inter-Con Security, Kosmos Energy Ghana, KPMG, Landtours/U Save Car Rental (AVIS), LEASAFRIC Ghana Limited (HERTZ), MAC Ghana, MANTRAC GHANA (Caterpillar), Marriott, MASCO/KFC, Max International, Nebraska Beef, Newmont Ghana, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut/Counter Burger, PricewaterhouseCoopers (Ghana) Ltd., Rana Motors, SMICE International, Rendeavour (Appolonia-City of Light), Tanink Ghana Ltd., Trimble Export Ltd., United States Pharmacopeia, Visa, West Africa Gas Pipe Company-WAPCO, The Whitaker Group, Webster University Ghana, and Y Distribution/YOLO/Urban Grill.
Finally, and above all, I want to thank my wife and my best friend. Babs, you have been by my side on this journey of service — year after year, country after country. We have seen the world, and the world has seen the goodness of America through you.
Now, please join me in a toast: To the good health and long life of His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo — to the United States, and to Ghana. May the friendship and partnership between our nations continue to grow.
Ladies and gentlemen, It is now my distinct honor to introduce Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. Secretary Ross is the principal voice of business in the Trump Administration, ensuring that U.S. entrepreneurs and businesses have the tools they need to create jobs and economic opportunity. We are honored to have him and his wife, Hilary, as our special guests this year. Welcome, Mr. Secretary.