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Ghana - UK Relations

The UK’s relations with Ghana are warm and strong. There are wide ranging social, economic and commercial contacts. The UK is a second home for several hundred thousand Ghanaians. By historical tradition and choice, Ghana's political future has been bound up with that of Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, Nkrumah led the way for independent African states that were former British colonies to join the Commonwealth.

The close bond between Ghana and Britain was evident in 1959 when Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth of Nations, visited Ghana and received a warm reception. At the 1964 Commonwealth Conference, Nkrumah proposed the establishment of a permanent Commonwealth secretariat, in order, as Nkrumah put it, "to make the Commonwealth move in tune with the common aspirations of its members." According to one observer, Nkrumah believed the Commonwealth was an example of how a free association of independent states should work. The Commonwealth provided a vehicle for the transfer of technology and for economic and cultural cooperation.

The Commonwealth also served as a place for developing the most effective methods for ending colonialism without revolution or violence and under conditions in which a former colonial territory could retain a close association with the former imperial power.

Nkrumah again took the lead in forcing South Africa out of the Commonwealth in 1961. In 1965 Ghana was forced to break diplomatic relations with Britain in order to support the OAU resolution over Rhodesia's (later, Zimbabwe) unilateral declaration of independence and imposition of a white minority government. Relations were restored the next year, however, following the overthrow of Nkrumah.

Following the 31st December 1981 Revolution, Ghana lost its membership in the Commonwealth Parliament Association, which promotes interchange and understanding among parliamentarians of member states. Ghana was readmitted to the association in September 1993, the same year it was also readmitted to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, another Commonwealth institution. With its readmission to these two bodies, Ghana became a major player in Commonwealth affairs.

In May 1994, Ghana hosted a Commonwealth conference on local government that attracted participants from several West African countries. At the end of the year, Ghana remained the only West African Commonwealth country with an elected government, the other three members—Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Gambia—all being under military rule. As a contribution toward Ghanaian democracy, the Commonwealth, along with the OAU and the Carter Center in the United States, provided international observer teams to monitor Ghana's presidential election in November 1992.

Ghana's relations with Britain continued to be generally good under the PNDC. British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mrs. Lynda Chalker, paid a successful official visit to Ghana in early 1987 which resulted in enhanced British aid for Ghana' economic reforms. Since the ERP began in 1983, Britain has given Ghana more than £69 million as balance of payments support. Ghana has reportedly garnered more aid from Britain than any African country except Zimbabwe. Britain, along with other Western countries and international development agencies, also provided much needed technical, logistical, and financial support for the implementation of Ghana's governmental decentralization effort, for the first District Assembly elections in 1988-89, as well as for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 1992.

Ghana is the UK’s fourth largest export market in Africa. UK exports in goods to Ghana were valued at £189.8m in 2006, up from £155.04m in 2006. Various manufactured articles, pharmaceuticals and textiles made up the majority of these exports. UK imports from Ghana were £148.8m in 2006, up from £117.7m in 2005. The UK is the largest investor in Ghana, with an estimated £500m of assets. One of the biggest investments is Lonmin’s 32% share in Ghana’s largest gold mining company, Ashanti Goldfields. Altogether, there are 141 companies with British equity registered with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre. The key ones are Unilever, Guiness, British Airways, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays, Paterson Zochonis, Taylor Woodrow and Cadbury.

Ghana is one of the UK's largest developmental programs in Africa. Aid in support of their Poverty Reduction Strategy has now reached approximately £70m a year. Rather than a project approach, the Department for International Development (DFID) has embarked on a sector wide approach and budget support delivered in coordination with other donors, with the Government of Ghana in the lead. Budget Support accounts for around half of DFID spending. Sector wide support is focussed on health, education, water, rural livelihoods, public sector reform and public financial management. Ghana’s national policy of free compulsory universal basic education aims to provide 9 years of good quality schooling for all Ghanaian children – for which the UK contributed £52m over a 5-year period.

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Page last modified: 15-03-2017 18:21:35 ZULU