Ghana holds both strategic and trading importance for India and has been part of India’s wider diplomatic outreach within the African continent.
Chaos erupted after certain members of a governing party raised objections during a parliamentary vote session, leading to a ‘total breakdown of law and order’. The ensuing clash which lasted several hours was finally brought to heel when the army stepped in, while national television broadcasted the drama live.
This might sound eerily familiar, but the scene described above played out in a completely different country- Ghana.
The Ghanaian election results might not have made the frontpage news of international dailies, but it did make for some tense viewing. Dispute over election results played out when John Mahama of National Democratic Congress (NDC), who received 47 per cent votes, contested the result. This disagreement spiralled into the aforementioned chaos when a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) tried to seize the ballot box while votes were still being counted. Eventually soldiers were called into Ghana’s parliament to break up the scuffle. Hours later, Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was sworn in as President for second term, narrowly winning the election over 51 per cent votes.
India’s interest in Ghana’s elections shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The two countries have long shared a good friendship over time. India hosted President Nkrumah in 1961. This was followed by fairly regular visits at that level from Ghana to India, including for the India-Africa Forum Summit and the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance in the recent past.
India has been supporting Ghana’s development by providing assistance in setting up projects through provision of Lines of Credit (LoC) and grants. So far, Government of India has extended LoC amounting to about US$480 million to Government of Ghana for various developmental projects. Over the last decade and a half, Ghana has been part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which counts 15 West African countries which enjoy a Duty-Free Tariff Preference Scheme, wherein India provides preferential market access to exports from these countries.
Ghana has also been beneficiary of Pan African E-Network Project. A MoU was signed between the Govt. of Ghana and TCIL on 26 August 2019 for participation by Ghana in the e-VBAB Network Project to provide good quality affordable and effective tele-education and tele-medicine services through specially developed web-based platforms. Ghana was the pilot country to roll out the project, which is under implementation.
A number of Indian companies including Tata, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra & Mahindra, Escorts, Larson & Toubro, NIIT, M/s Shapoorji Pallonji& Co., as well as several pharmaceutical companies have an established presence in Ghana.
Ghana’s huge crude oil reserves make it an important trading partner for India to secure its energy security. In addition, Ghana is rich in gold, bauxite, diamonds, oil and gas making it an important partner for India’s strong business and strategic. And there is the strategic importance Africa has a whole continent holds for India’s geostrategic and development interests, not to mention to check China’s growing imprint in the region.
India has been supportive towards development in the African continent as outlined in the ‘Ten Guiding Principles of India’s engagement with Africa,” announced by Prime Minister Modi in 2018. India has also been very supportive of African representation at the UNSC as permanent members. A sentiment that was recently echoed by Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla at the UN Security Council Open Debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: Challenges of maintaining peace and security in fragile context.
“We are committed to supporting African countries in this endeavour, as per African priorities and without conditionalities,’ he said, ‘India will continue to support Africa’s aspirations and work towards empowering it for a future that is founded on the principles of inclusivity, sustainability, transparency and socio-economic development with dignity and respect.’
Dr Ishita Mandrekar is the Online Editor at ‘India Global Business’.