Honorable Minister of Employment and Labor Relations,
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Traditional and Religious Leaders,
Members of the Press,
And all our other distinguished guests,
Mema moadwo and akwaaba. Babs, Melinda and I, as well as all of our colleagues, warmly welcome you to our celebration of the 240th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America. I know there’s good music, good food and drink, and good conversation happening; so I promise not to keep your attention too long.
As you’ve walked around this evening, you have noticed the theme we have chosen for this year’s event: “Ghana and the United States: A Partnership for Growth and Prosperity.”
There are a couple reasons we have chosen to focus on business and trade this year. Let me start with the historical one: Business and trade have always played an important role in American history, all the way back to our beginning. Two hundred and forty years ago, economic and trade policies were key reasons why our colonies sought the independence we celebrate today. Since that time, business and trade have been central to our development and to who we are. As President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” Today we honor that entrepreneurial spirit.
We are also focusing on business and trade because of their importance to our relationship with Ghana. You may have heard me say that my goal for the next three years is to double our bilateral trade. Of course, I hope to see an increased number of American products and services here, but I also want to see Ghana transform its manufacturing sector and send an increased amount of “Made in Ghana” exports to the U.S. market. Promoting economic growth and investment in Ghana is a priority for our bilateral relationship.
American companies symbolize a commitment to quality, service, corporate responsibility, and strong ethics. Today you can learn a little more about the U.S. companies that have established a presence here in Ghana. These companies are bringing their technical skills to Ghana and helping local partners grow their own capacity. As business has evolved over the generations, so has the philosophy about what a business should be and what it should do. A good business is about growing local economies and improving lives.
The companies represented today have implemented programs to increase farmers’ productivity, improve school nutrition, provide clean water, and rescue victims of child labor.
We’re working closely with the government of Ghana to create an environment that will attract even more investment and stimulate the broad-based economic growth that benefits all Ghanaians, from you here in Accra to the farmer all the way up in Upper West Region.
We recognize there are challenges in making that happen. There are limitations in infrastructure, power, and access to credit. We’re partnering with the government to overcome those barriers.
We’re celebrating our independence here today, and I anticipate that in a matter of months, we will celebrate together again, as we each exercise our right to vote in our national elections. While rhetoric can oftentimes become harsh and divisive during the heat of an election campaign, I am optimistic that inclusion across lines of faith, gender, and ethnicity remains a central value of the United States. And regardless of who wins, you can be assured of our commitment to Ghana.
Here in Ghana, our only interest is in seeing a free, fair, peaceful election that represents the will of the Ghanaian people. The government of the United States does not support a particular candidate. We do not support a particular party. We will work with the elected government of Ghana, just as we always have.
To our Ghanaian guests and colleagues, it is your vote that matters. I encourage you to educate yourselves on the issues and demand that candidates talk about the issues – creating jobs; abolishing modern-day slavery; fighting corruption; promoting decentralization; providing quality education, healthcare, and infrastructure. It is up to you to vote for your Ghana. On election day, some will win, and some will lose. Regardless of how your candidate or your party fares, we all win when peace and transparency prevail.
Again, we all have a responsibility in this regard. As has often been said, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men—good people—should do nothing. In the coming months, people who put their own interests ahead of all else will try to divide you. Stand firm. Make it clear that you stand for peace. That you stand for transparency. That you stand for Ghana.
Before closing, I want to thank my many colleagues here at the Mission who worked very hard to make this event a success.
I also want to thank our generous sponsors. More than 30 American companies, American franchises, and distributors of American products contributed to make this event happen tonight. There are too many to single out by name, but we have highlighted each one on the backdrop behind me, at the displays by the photo booth area, and on the simulcast TV monitor in the back. Let’s take a moment and express our appreciation for each of them by extending a warm round of applause. We are grateful for the strong relationship we share with our American business community. The American and Ghanaian private sectors are driving forces that strengthen our bilateral relationship.
We cherish the relationship we have with Ghana. We cherish our partnership, and the growth and prosperity we are achieving together. Thank you for joining us today to celebrate our independence.
Now, please join me in a toast: To the good health and long life of His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama and to peace and prosperity for both our countries.