Official visit to Ghana
On Tuesday Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess began an official visit to Ghana. Ghana is one of the most successful African states and serves as a pioneer in many ways in the region .
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess are accompanied by Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim.
The Republic of Ghana is a peaceful, democratic country with a strong and growing economy. The country is on the threshold of a new period of economic development as a result of the discovery of oil, with offshore production in the Jubilee oil field due to start in 2012. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess will visit several successful joint projects and will be present at the signing of two cooperation agreements between Norway and Ghana.
Received by the Vice President
On Tuesday morning the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Minister Solheim were received by Vice President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama at an official welcoming ceremony at Flagstaff House. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess each received a kente cloth – a traditional, hand-woven garment worn on very special occasions – as a gift. Vice President Dramani Mahama also paid the Crown Prince the honour of wrapping the kente cloth around him.
After the meeting with the Vice President the agreement between Norway and Ghana on Oil for Development was formally launched. The agreement was presented by Minister Solheim together with Ghanas Minister of Energy, Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, and Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology.
Working lunch with UN Country Team
A key topic of discussion during the luncheon were Ghanas efforts towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, along with the results of UN activities in the country. In terms of the Millennium Development Goals the general trend is positive and Ghana is one of the countries that has come furthest in this regard. In 2006, Ghana became the first country in Africa to reduce the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty by half. There has also been progress as regards the goal of achieving universal primary education, although there continue to be differences between the regions and between different segments of the population.
Compared with other countries in Africa the rate of infection for HIV/AIDS is low in Ghana. Some two per cent of the population are infected. In her speech at the working lunch on Tuesday Crown Princess Mette-Marit praised the important work being done in this area:
I am very pleased to learn that Ghana has managed to reverse the spread of HIV over the last few years, gradually reducing the number of new infections. And I commend the efforts to increase the number of people with access to HIV specific health services, the Crown Princess stated.
Ghana Summit 2011
The Ghana Summit is an annual conference that brings together international leaders in the oil and gas sector. In his address to the 400 or so top executives present the Crown Prince emphasised Ghanas potential, as a new oil-producing nation, for continued economic growth and for collaboration with the international industry. The Crown Prince stressed that the petroleum resources will be advantageous for Ghana, especially if they are managed in a way that safeguards the environment and ensures that the income generated is used for the benefit of the whole population.
Minister Solheim also spoke at the conference, focusing on the importance of sound management of the resources, the environment and the oil revenues.
Meeting with representatives of civil society
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess had the opportunity to meet with representatives of a number of NGOs. The local and international organisations focused on various challenges they have encountered in Ghana, both as a result of petroleum activity and in other areas of society. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Minister Solheim appreciated this input, which is crucial to gaining a more complete understanding of the situation in the country.
Banquet with the Vice President
The first day of the three-day visit concluded on Tuesday evening with an official dinner with the Ghanaian Vice President serving as host.
Facts about Ghana
Capital city: Accra
Largest cities: Accra and Kumasi
Total area: 238 537 km²
Population (2011): approximately 23.5 million
Official language: English
Form of government: Republic
Head of State (2011): President John Evans Atta Mills
Political and diplomatic ties between Norway and Ghana are excellent and are currently being strengthened by the establishment of a Norwegian embassy in Accra. The embassy is expected to open in the course of 2011.
The ties between Norway and Ghana are strengthening, particularly as Ghana is emerging as an oil and gas nation. Norwegian bilateral assistance to Ghana is channelled mainly through the Norwegian Oil for Development (OfD) initiative, in which a number of Norwegian petroleum and development cooperation institutions are involved. The Ghanaian authorities have also expressed an interest in establishing cooperation in the fields of climate and clean energy.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Finals at the Opera House
The Queen Sonja International Music Competition has reached the final stage. Her Majesty The Queen will be in attendance when the six finalists compete onstage at the Oslo Opera House this evening.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.