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General News Mon, 19 Nov 2001

Address By Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama ...

....At the Africa-America Institute's 17th Annual Awards Dinner

Washington, DC

Address by His Excellency Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana on the occasion of the Africa-America Institute's 17th Annual Awards Dinner.


Mr. Chairman, President Wade, Honorees, Friends,

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It is a great honour for me to be here this evening, among such distinguished company.

Allow me on behalf of the Government and people of Ghana to express our deep sympathies and condolences to the people of the United States, and all who lost family and friends in the evil act of September 11. The tragedy also affected nationals of about eighty countries, including my own.

The work of the Africa-America Institute inspires great respect, and President J.A. Kufuor would have loved to be here himself tonight, at this "Help Pass the Torch" event. He is unable to attend this very important event due to an urgent national assignment in Ghana. He has therefore bestowed on me the honour to receive this prestigious Award on his behalf.

"Help Pass the Torch" - what an apt image, what a timely request, or is it an order?

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H.E. President Kufuor prefers to see it as marching orders because there is so much to do in Africa and in the United States. So much we can and must do on our own respectively; and so much we can and must do together. To remove the shackles of oppression, ignorance, disease and poverty in Africa, to empower the peoples of our continent, to restore the dignity of all whose heritage is African and, thereby, create enhanced opportunities for wealth generation for Africa, for the United States and for our global village.

Through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), whose promulgation was due in no small measure to the efforts of people like Rosa Whitaker, economic opportunity is being created for Africa and the US through trade and not aid - Thank you Rosa. Even though more needs to be done in terms of expanding funding for capacity building and removing supply constraints in Africa, we are on course. We are grateful for your commitment and support, that of our advocates in Congress and of President Bush.

In the fight against the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic, through the leadership of the distinguished United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, and the support of civil society and other interest groups in the United States, a Global Health Fund has been created. We need to sustain efforts at mobilizing resources to ensure that we attain the targeted level and objectives that led to creating the Fund. Congratulations, Mathilde Krim.

Taking advantage of the opportunities created by the information and communication technology is a challenge for Africa. Kenneth Walker, Tamela Hultman and Reed Kramer are great pioneers who recognized early, information and communication as tools for projecting a balanced image of the continent.

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As we join the United States and others in the United Nations to fight the scourge of terrorism, we shall face challenges relating to competing needs and interests. It is our hope that we can maintain a focus broad enough to sustain the attention being paid to the promotion of development in Africa.

We in Africa recognize that the primary responsibility for our development lies with ourselves. This requires that we live by democratic principles, respect the rule of law, promote good governance, transparency and accountability, uphold human rights and maintain zero tolerance for corruption.

The respect for political freedoms is the bedrock for growing prosperous economies, expanding opportunity and deepening social cohesion. We are determined, therefore, that the new leadership of Ghana will entrench democratic governance in its highest form.

We are convinced that ensuring political inclusiveness is a precondition for deepening democratic rule and our appointments reflect this commitment.

In the past, the ambivalent attitude in our country towards the private sector had limited the potential of our innate entrepreneurial capability and, consequently, our development. A vibrant local private sector is the key to a thriving economy, attractive to international private capital flows and foreign direct investments. Through the Golden Age of Business, which is the centerpiece of our economic plan, the conditions for nurturing, developing and promoting the local private sector are being created. Sound economic management is the key in this respect.

Finally, we believe that the creation of an effective regional partnership in Africa is critical to enhancing our competitive position. Over the past ten months, our emphasis on good neighbourliness, through personal and official contacts, has enhanced Ghana's political and economic ties with other countries in the sub-region. We believe that through pro-active regional diplomacy, a process in which President Abdoulaye Wade is a leading advocate, we shall make our region a vital part of the global economy.

Your ideas, support and commitment to this vision of a new Africa are very much welcome and we look forward to greater cooperation and partnership. Once again, on behalf of H.E. President Kufuor and the people of Ghana, I thank the Africa-America Institute for conferring this National Achievement Award on our President and the people of Ghana.

God bless us all.

Source: Republic of Ghana (Accra)