These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he held an official lunch in honour of the President of the Republic of Sierra, His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, at Jubilee House.
Proposing a toast his Sierra Leonean counterpart, President Akufo-Addo noted that the historical and cultural ties between Ghana and Sierra Leone are borne largely out of trade and education, dating back two centuries.
‘Mr. President, your presence in Ghana should spur our two nations on to develop stronger ties and explore several areas of co-operation to the mutual benefit of our two peoples,’ he said.
Having followed, with keen interest, the structural programme being embarked upon by President Maada Bio’s administration, President Akufo-Addo stated that he was, particularly, happy about his ‘Free Quality Education’ initiative.
‘I urge you to stand firm and see it through, regardless of the opposition you will face. For us in Ghana, our Free Senior High School education policy, within the first two years of its implementation, has ensured that 270,000 more students, whose education would otherwise have been truncated for financial reasons, have access to secondary education,’ the President said.
Additionally, President Akufo-Addo also lauded the Sierra Leonean President’s initiatives in the area of agriculture, aimed at enhancing food security for the people of that country.
‘It was also good to see Your Excellency sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, during the 31st African Union Summit, in Nouakchott, Mauritania. I will, respectfully, urge your Government to see to the expeditious ratification of the Agreement, so that we can quickly reach the minimum threshold of ratification by twenty-two-member states, that will enable the CFTA to come into effect, and permit our continent to take advantage of its huge market,’ President Akufo-Addo said.
He continued: ‘This will present great opportunities to increase intra-African trade, create jobs, enhance incomes, and put the continent onto the path of progress and prosperity. In so doing, it is equally important for us to take the necessary measures that will make our regional market of ECOWAS effective, as a sound building block for the success of the CFTA. If our regional markets work well, our continental market will work well.’
President Akufo-Addo also assured President Maada Bio that, in the spirit of the excellent relations between the two countries, such assistance, as within Ghana’s modest means, to support the education, health, sanitation and other initiatives of his government, will be forthcoming.