Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher J. Lamora
To the Ghana Business Awards
Kempinski Hotel | October 30, 2020
Hon. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Minister for Business Development,
Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister for Information,
Rev. Professor Emmanuel Asante, Chairman of the National Peace Council,
His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, National Chief Imam,
Fellow members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Protocols Observed.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you at the 2020 Ghana Business Awards. I’m particularly humbled to be included given that social-distancing has put attendance at such events at premium, and no doubt there are many more worthy individuals to whom you could have given my place at the table and on the program. So thank you.
Social-distancing… Face coverings… Veronica buckets. All of these items and practices that have become integral parts of our daily lives over the past year boil down to the same basic concept: Mitigation of risk.
And yet, business leaders and entrepreneurs such as those we’re honoring tonight often succeed precisely because they take risks. Financial… Reputational… Even occasionally physical as they lose sleep and forget to eat, so fully do they throw themselves into the realization of their dreams.
And that’s in what we now call an “ordinary” year.
But 2020, as we all know, has been anything but ordinary. And so tonight, we honor and acknowledge resilience and innovation under unprecedented circumstances – Individuals and companies who persevered through unplanned business adaptations, weathered significant changes to every market, pivoted to business models not previously considered, and sometimes suffered deep personal sacrifices.
For both the businesses that are still brushing themselves off, and especially for the winners here tonight, we commend your extraordinary work this year.
On the business front as well as the health front, this has been an unquestionably trying time. Your award-worthy efforts show, though, that with diligence and resilience, success is not just possible. It’s proven.
I believe the same is true with the pandemic. The United States has been and remains committed to supporting Ghana’s efforts to combat the coronavirus, and we remain similarly committed to fostering your economic recovery, especially through increased U.S./Ghanaian business partnerships.
I’m proud that so many American companies have contributed to COVID relief efforts, and I’m truly pleased that so many Ghanaian alumni of our exchange and training programs – especially women – have been able to put their newfound knowledge and skills to use so that their businesses didn’t just survive but thrived in this new global reality.
Last year, Ghana welcomed thousands of Americans to commemorate the Year of Return, and with that came the foundations of new economic linkages. These connections remain strong despite the pandemic and help to set Ghana on the path to growth in many sectors, including apparel, agriculture, real estate, and many more. These connections to the United States mean that growth can come in the form of skilled jobs for Ghana’s youth, expanding Ghana’s role as an economic anchor in West Africa, and export opportunities for Ghana’s bountiful produce to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
COVID-19 risk management protocols may have us sitting a little farther apart than we would like, but rest assured that the United States and Ghana are closer than ever, and ready to do business together.
I’m also excited about home-grown initiatives that show African solutions to African challenges. I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to meet with Secretary General Wamkele Mene of the African Continental Free Trade Area. With its seat here in Accra, the AfCFTA Secretariat is poised, as the Secretary General said at its launch in August, to lift 30 million Africans out of poverty and increase intra-Africa trade by 81 percent by 2035. Effective implementation will of course be critical, but over the coming weeks, months, and years, I foresee limitless opportunities for businesses across Africa to take advantage of the FTA framework and build a stronger Africa for the next generation.
Because really, that’s what this is all about – the future. Entrepreneurs don’t establish businesses and pour their heart and souls into seeing them succeed just because they can. Businesses are a means to an end.
They create wealth, not just for the investors and executives, but for their employees and wider communities. They offer jobs for the un- and under-employed, serve as anchors for national economic growth in the best of times, and engines of recovery in times like these.
And so on behalf of the U.S. Government, and particularly those of us here at the Embassy in Accra, I commend and congratulate all of tonight’s 2020 Ghana Business Awards winners – and in fact all of you in this room and within the sound of my voice – for what you have already accomplished, as well as for what I know you will accomplish in the future, and for the future.
Drafted: ECON: Gunner Hamlyn
Cleared:ECON: Hagen Maroney (OK )
PAS: Ginny Elliott ( OK )
FAS: Hannah Kamenetsky
USAID/GH: James Lykos ( OK )
Approved by: EXEC: Christopher Lamora ( )