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Ghana 2016 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to the Honorable Hanna Serwaah Tetteh, Ghana Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, on trade and security in the region and establishing ties with the EU.

Honorable Hanna Serwaah Tetteh
BIOGRAPHY
The Hon. Hanna Serwaah Tetteh is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana. She is also the Member of Parliament for the Awutu-Senya West Constituency in the Central Region. Prior to her appointment as Foreign Minister in February 2013, she was the Minister of Trade and Industry for the entire four-year period in the previous term of the Government of the National Democratic Congress. She is a lawyer by profession, having studied law at the University of Ghana, Legon, obtaining her Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree in 1989. She subsequently attended the Ghana School of Law and was called to the Ghana Bar in 1992. She began her legal career in private legal practice with the law firm of Ansa-Asare & Co., and also worked briefly with the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

In the wake of multiple Boko Haram attacks in the region, what can be done to enhance security within the region?

The new Nigerian government has done a lot to combat the threat posed by Boko Haram and has essentially put that organization on the retreat. However, we still have to maintain a greater level of vigilance. We have to use the peace building architecture that we have devised and the early warning systems we have already established in our regions and use those mechanisms to protect our citizens. ECOWAS is an integrated region that allows for the free movement of citizens, which creates a greater imperative for national structures to be more effectively integrated. Increasingly, regular communications with one another will naturally promote the sharing of information and provide as much intelligence as possible on request, allowing us to work together to deal with any security challenges that may arise. We currently allow for free movement among member states for a period of three months without a visa or any form of residence requirements. This will change, as we are planning to launch the ECOWAS biometric identity card, which will operate as an identity card, travel document, residence permit, and work permit.

What are the key countries you are working with to return to Ghana's 2011-13 GDP growth levels?

Our focus is on developing new partnerships to deal with key infrastructure challenges and to increase investment in other growth areas while developing economic opportunities, jobs, and improving the standard of living. We are no longer in a position to take on additional debt to deal with the infrastructure challenges we have, and investments now have to be commercially viable. The focus is on developing PPPs (but not PPPs that are backed with sovereign guarantees) whereby we can assure our investing partner that any funds generated from investments are available to repay any financing facility and create a platform for greater investments in our economy.

In which sectors have you identified key opportunities for growth?

The number one issue for us right now is energy. We must expand our power generation, improve transmission, have more efficient distribution, and even push our generation capacity in excess of our national demand, as we have the infrastructure to export it. Some of the challenges we are facing right now are due to our infrastructure not being able to keep up with domestic demand, hence the energy sector is the number one area where we would like to attract new investments. Transportation infrastructure and supporting logistics infrastructure are also important. We are looking for partnerships to expand our existing ports and harbors and develop new inland ports. Likewise, we have seen an upswing in the domestic air travel market, and there is potential in that sector as well. The provision of water is also a basic utility that we all need. Dealing with the challenge of waste management is something that every country, city, and municipality has to deal with. We have had some PPP projects that have been interesting, but there is room for more. The government is looking for investments from the private sector in order to deal with the infrastructure deficit we have.