Ghana: Speech at Government Reception
Your Excellency Mr. Vice President,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Crown Princess and I have been very much looking forward to our first visit to Ghana - and we want to thank you for the warm welcome we have been given. Thank you also, Mr Vice President, for generously hosting this wonderful dinner.
We have had a very full and interesting first day - focusing on petroleum, and on the work of the United Nations in Ghana. Two areas of strong mutual interest and engagement in our two countries.
Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence – in 1957 – sending a wave of hope and optimism throughout the continent. Independence was achieved peacefully. For many, President Kwame Nkrumah’s (Ghana’s first president) emphasis on the justice sector, education and African unity hailed the start of a new era for Africa.
Today Ghana is again entering a new era. Discovery of oil and gas off shore has given new opportunities for economic growth and Ghana is now rapidly developing this new sector. Forty years ago, Norway was in a similar position - when oil and gas was discovered off the Norwegian coast.
I am very happy that Ghana regards Norwegian experience and expertise in this field to be useful now when Ghana is developing as an oil producing nation.
Norway contributes through the Oil for Development program to Ghana's development of sustainable resource and environmental management of oil and gas, and dialogue has been initiated in the field of revenue management.
We had the pleasure of visiting Ghana Summit today. The exhibition at this business to business conference says a lot about Ghana’s new position as an upcoming petroleum nation. Access to petroleum resources may be an important source of income and can, if managed in a good and environmentally sound way, stimulate economic and social development.
Some people think that oil and gas are Norway’s most important resources, but of course they are not. Norway’s most precious resource is people. Knowledge and capacity for innovation enables development of cutting edge technology and finding practical and good solutions to upcoming challenges. And it is people that make the decisions that ensure that natural resources translate into welfare for the population, including the worst off groups.
Ghana is in a strong position to lay the foundation for a sustainable development of its oil and gas resources for the benefit of your people. Ghana is therefore seen as the African country that can show that it is possible to translate natural resources into pro-poor growth by doing the right things from the start.
Because the real test is not whether a country is able to make a large revenue from its natural resources, but (rather) how well the benefits of having natural resources translates into better quality of life for its people – and especially those that are underprivileged.
Ghana has also shown that it is possible to build a stable and prosperous country based on well functioning democratic institutions and good governance. We hope that other countries will follow Ghana’s example.
Another area of cooperation between Ghana and Norway is peace building. West Africa has seen a number of conflicts in recent years, which has led to immense civilian suffering. Capacity building among institutions and personnel to strengthen the African civilian and police peacekeeping capacities is in this regard an important tool that can contribute to lasting peace in conflict areas. Norway collaborates with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in this field.
There are also historical relations between Ghana and Norway. A dark spot here is the Norwegian contribution to the Danish-Norwegian engagement in the slave trade from the 17th till the 19th century. It is estimated that 50 000 West African slaves were taken across the Atlantic on Danish-Norwegian ships. The trade was based out of the Christiansborg, today your presidential palace.
The Crown Princess and I will visit Elmina castle tomorrow to learn more about this tragic part of our common history. Today, the relations between Ghana and Norway are very good and growing stronger. Norway will, as a result, strengthen our presence here in Accra by opening an embassy later this year.
In this very exciting moment in Ghana’s development and in our relationship to Ghana, the Crown Princess and I are honored to be with you, and we wish you every success in your continued efforts.
I would like to propose a toast to the future of Ghana and the continued excellent relationship between Ghana and Norway.