He said Germany and Ghana had also just signed a financing agreement valued at 16 million euros for Ghana’s membership in the African Trade Insurance Agency.
Addressing a reception last week Tuesday to mark the 29th anniversary of German reunification, also known as the German Unity Day, and 30 years of the fall of the Berlin wall and Germany’s vibrant partnership with Ghana, he said that would boost trade and investment in Ghana.
Ministers of state, Members of Parliament (MPs), members of the diplomatic corps, members of the German community, the academia, religious and traditional leaders were at a reception to mark this year’s celebration of German Unity Day in Accra.
The Ambassador said he was happy to note that Germany had initiated the G20 Compact with Africa Initiative and had launched their bilateral Reform and Investment Partnership, which is very much in line with the Africa-European Union Alliance, adding that the partnership was producing concrete results.
Mr Retzlaff noted that their development cooperation was reflecting Ghana´s priorities along the Ghana Beyond Aid Strategy and said they had increased the volume considerably under the Reform and Investment Partnership.
“For us, economic development is always linked to the fight against poverty,” he stated, adding that “we must make sure that millions of poor people get the chance to live a life in dignity”.
The Ambassador observed that “poverty is, as Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said just recently at the United Nations (UN) in New York in the United States of America (USA), still a daily reality in this country and it robs people of their dignity. It is our joint task to change that.”
He stressed that Ghana and Germany were in a strong partnership together and noted that President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel both visited Ghana.
He said President Akufo-Addo had been to Germany four times already, since taking office, and would come to Berlin once again in a few weeks.“Our partnership with Ghana is built around three pillars, namely investment and jobs, good governance and the fight against poverty,” he added.
The Ambassador emphasised that Germany-Ghana economic relations were making good progress.
He noted that trade volume went up by 25 per cent in 2018, but said both sides could and must do better.
“Conditions for doing business in Ghana have improved, but they are still not as good as they could and should be,” he observed.
Mr Retzlaff noted that many German companies were interested in investing in Ghana and said in February they hosted the “German Africa Business Summit” in Accra — the biggest Africa event of German business with more than 700 participants. In November, he said, the new “German-Ghanaian Business Council” would be launched in Berlin.
Volkswagen will start car assembling in Ghana soon and German company Knauf has opened a vocational training centre in Accra for 900 young Ghanaians.
He stressed that vocational training was key for the industrialisation of Ghana and they would, therefore, expand their vocational training programmes and provide 25,000 young Ghanaians with vocational training in the next few years.
“We are supporting Ghanaian start-ups and young entrepreneurs,” he disclosed, and said in December 2018 the biggest European Internet and digital conference — re.publica — from Berlin, came for the first time ever to Accra and Africa in general.
Currently, he said, there were over 40 university partnerships between Ghana and Germany, while 500 young Ghanaians held scholarships from German universities.
He recalled that in March they launched a 25 million euro programme for E-waste recycling at Agbogbloshie and the WASCAL Institute in Accra, supported by the German Government.
‘We are studying the effects of climate change in West Africa and try to provide strategies for preventing them or help farmers to adapt to them,” he stated.
Mr Retzlaff recalled that German unity was a once in a lifetime event for Germans and stressed that it was a day of huge joy and deep emotions, saying the fall of the wall was made possible by courageous people, not only in East Germany but also in Poland, Hungary and the former Chechoslovakia — who stood up for freedom, human rights and democracy.
It was a peaceful uprising that changed the world and still was an inspiration for many people around the world.
He expressed their gratitude to their Eastern European neighbours and their international partners, mainly the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, for their trust and support.
He thanked all 15 German institutions in Ghana for their excellent work and cooperation and their generous sponsors: Allianz, Accra Brewery, B/ Braun, Brussels Airlines, Denk Pharma, DHL, Evonik, Ghacem, Knauf, Kühne & Nagel, MC Bauchemie, Siemens, Universal Motors,Volkswagen, Porsche and C. Woermann for supporting the reception.
The Ambassador later proposed the toast to the good health of President Akufo-Addo and the people of Ghana and to the friendship between Ghana and Germany.
In her response, Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said Germany continued to be a worthy development partner.
She observed that the numerous scholarships awarded to Ghanaian students in various disciplines to study in universities across Europe contributed immensely to the human resource development of Ghana.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful mentioned in particular that the Goethe Institute had been active in Accra for more than 50 years and partnered some educational institutions in Ghana to roll out training programmes.
She said she couldn’t agree more with Ambassador Retzlaff that poverty, a human catastrophe, had plagued many countries and needed to be tackled.
“That is why the Akufo-Addo-led government has put in place many pro-poor policies such as the free Senior High School (SHS) Programme, as well as the Planting for Food and Jobs, among others,” she pointed out.
“The free education programme has ensured that students who hitherto will have dropped out of school because of school fees are now continuing their education, while the Planting for Food and Jobs has also created employment avenues for the country’s teeming unemployed youth,” the Communications Minister stated.
BY: Kate Baaba Hudson