Building Bridges

Opening Speech

Enhancing Linkages Between Turkey, Islamic World's Premier Democracy and Ghana, Africa's Most Shining Democracy”...

Enhancing Linkages Between Turkey, Islamic World's Premier Democracy  and Ghana, Africa's Most Shining Democracy”

 

Dear Friends,

I would like to thank Honourable Minister Mme Hannah Tetteh for honouring us tonight, Mr. Richard Adjei Mensah Ofori Atta, Executive Director of Eon 3 Company the architect of this event, and Mr. George Aboagye (CEO - Ghana Investment Promotion Centre), and the leaders and the friendly people of Kumasi. This is our first time in this wonderful city and I am sure, not the last. We would like to come more often, with big teams of Turkish businesspeople to this beautiful, green city, also the city of entrepreneurs.

As our theme is building bridges, I would like to concentrate on the millenial experiences of Turkey and Africa and how we can learn from each other.

As a brief information, we started history at the borders of China, they did not let us in :) so we turned our horses West all the way to Vienna and ended up in what is Turkey today. Two important empires we had were the Seljouk Turks who are known for fighting the Crusaders, and the Ottoman Empire which collapsed after WW I, and in 1923, we turned our regime into a Republic. Then we became, as the title goes, “a premier democracy” and economy in our region. How we did this, solely depends on the character of the Turkish nation, its patience, discipline and endurance in hard times, a nation which never revolts, and gains in the end. And the most important characteristic of our historical civilization was "inclusiveness" where all religions and ethnicities lived in peace and harmony, just as we happily see in your beautiful nation, today. This civilization of inclusivity enables nations to make emphaty within, as well as for the humankind at large. I think, due to this common heritage of ours, we understand each other, perhaps better than some exclusive civilizations. Hence we believe we have so much to learn from the experience, historical insight, vast culture, and the pristine wisdom of our African cousins finely distilled through millennia.

 

My dear brothers and sisters,

As I mentioned earlier, just as you had great states, we also had great states. Yet as we lost our power and riches, a lot of pretenders came and lectured us about modernity. Having this experience, we never, ever would pretend to be the lecturers to our African cousins. Instead, we would like to understand you, send our children to your universities for license, masters and PhD studies.

As we open to Africa, albeit belatedly, we want to know you and get lessons from your "yet" unpolluted wisdom and civilization. We see Africa not only as the cradle of civilization and mankind, but also as the focus of the future of mankind.

As you know, capitalism has to expand continually, it has to create new producers and consumers continually, if not, it would implode. And now the final expanding field of global capitalism is Africa, and we are aware of the 21st Century version of the "Scramble for Africa" as the "New Scramble for Africa". Yet Africa is the rising star of the 21st Century, and our priority is the development of Africa in every essential field. We would like to invest in labour intensive fields wherever possible. Honestly speaking, merchants are not angels, and they go for their profits. Yet we want our entrepreneurs to go honestly for a win win deal with their African partners. And the entrepreneurs expect businessfriendly bureaucracies. I think, in Ghana, traditional Chieftancy is in a good position to encourage FDI in the development of their regions.

Soon, our Eximbank Vice President and my Commercial Counselor shall be talking about Turkish economy, how the once bankrupt economy of Turkey became the sixth largest economy of Europe and the sixteenth of the world. But first let me express how I see Ghanaian economy. I can easily say that, except for the problems of the land regime in certain parts of the country, your nation is a genuine rising star with 24 universities, if I remember correctly, a wonderful asset for future human resource. It has the potential of being an economical and political beacon for her neighbours, radiating her energy into her environment.

Once investors settle in Ghana, together with their Ghanaian partners, they can gradually spread out to neighbouring countries. I think Ghana with 25 million inhabitants, has an ideal population for an effective economy too. We do know with regret that African countries are doing only 10% of their commerce among themselves. One of the most important handicaps is the poor infrastructure, especially poor road networks among the nations, even within national regions. As Turkey is the second in the world construction sector, we would like to share our experience with you in the field of infrastructure, perhaps constructing highways between Ghana and her neighbours. Our Eximbank Deputy Director and the Honourable Finance Minister just signed a 135 million dollar agreement yesterday for the water projects of Akim Oda, Akwatia and Winneba. I am sure more would be coming.

As for politics, Turkey has no intention what so ever to interfere in the politics of Ghana, take sides, give it lessons or try to manipulate it. We, without prejudice, want to deal with all Ghanaians, be they ordinary citizens, businesspeople, artists or politicians. We would try our best to bring Turkish groups to Ghana, as well as inviting Ghanaians to Turkey. Swiftly opening to Africa with more than thirty Embassies, and in dire need to have first hand direct knowledge, we would like to invite many of your dignitaries and academics from a variety of your social and political spectrum, for lectures to tell us about you.

With our more than hundred schools, including universities in Africa, we are trying to add to the education of the youth of Africa, they are our sons and daughters in the common destiny of our global village. We also give scholarships to African students for Turkish universities, while having Ghanaian teachers to teach Turkish students in Turkey. Before coming to Kumasi, I asked our Galaxy school principal in Accra if he had any message to Kumasi, and he said they are contemplating to open a school in Kumasi too.

As for another field of cooperation, Turkey, with 31 million tourists a year, is one of the leading countries in the world, and we can also work together for this field. And lastly, I want to give you the good news that I just received from my headquarters. As of today, all Ghanaian businesspersons who have USA, British, EU or OECD country visas, shall be eligible to get five year valid, multiple visas from the Turkish Embassy in Accra.

To end my speech here, I would say that we are just starting, we would like to have more organizations in Kumasi, the commercial hub of Ghana.

Taking this opportunity, once again, I thank our Honourable Minister Mme Hannah Tetteh, Mr. George Aboagye and Mr. Richard Adjei Mensah Ofori Atta and our august audience for this fruitful meeting.

 

( Golden Tulip Hotel | Kumasi, Ghana | 29 September 2012 )

 

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