22 May 2013

Ghana: Strong Impetus for Sino-Ghanaian Relations

On May 3, the first turbine of the Bui Hydroelectric Power Station in the Republic of Ghana, financed and built by China, started generating electricity, adding 133 megawatts to Ghana's electricity grid.

Funded with a concessional loan and buyer's credit by the China Export-Import Bank and constructed by the China Sinohydro Corporation, the Bui Hydroelectric Power Station, with a total capacity of 400 megawatts upon completion of all three turbines by the end of the year, will be the second-largest hydroelectric power station in Ghana. Up to now, Chinese and Ghanaian technicians and workers have been working shoulder-to-shoulder on the Bui project for more than five years, during which more than 6,000 Ghanaian workers have received training on hydroelectric power station construction.

In the inaugural address, Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama expressed his heartfelt thanks to the government and people of China for their support of Ghana's economic and social development, saying that this project will bring new impetus to the friendly relations between the two countries.

For years, Ghana's development has been held back by a serious power shortage. The situation has improved a little since the natural gas-operated Sunon Asogli Power Plant, co-founded by Chinese businesses, came into operation in 2010. But the completion of Bui Hydroelectric Power Station will not only put an end to the power shortage in Ghana, it will also benefit neighboring countries as well.

The Bui hydroelectric project is the epitome of fruitful cooperation between the two countries, which includes such sectors as infrastructure, agriculture, telecommunications and aviation. In 2008, Ghana hosted a successful African Cup of Nations. A Chinese company constructed two of the four stadiums for the games. In accordance with the agreement signed in 2010, China Development Bank has been providing $3 billion to finance infrastructure projects in Ghana. Many Chinese agricultural experts are now working in Ghana to transfer rice planting and aquacultural technology. Telecommunications and Internet facilities in Ghana have been greatly improved thanks to the participation of Chinese enterprises.

Furthermore, China's Hainan Airlines has chosen Ghana as its first African investment destination. Today, if you are traveling from Accra, the capital of Ghana, to Kumasi, the country's second largest-city, you could fly with an airline that is a joint venture by Hainan Airlines, and other Chinese and Ghanaian shareholders, which was once unimaginable.

Ghana is one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to establish diplomatic relations with China. The long established development of mutually beneficial cooperation has further strengthened the traditional friendship between the two countries and their peoples.

But despite the general trend in bilateral relations of dynamic development, there are some problems that need to be resolved. For instance, some Chinese citizens are involved in illegal gold mining in Ghana, which is having quite a negative impact on the local environment and social stability. The Chinese and Ghanaian governments are working closely together to find comprehensive solutions to such problems to ensure that ties remain on track.

There are many reasons to be confident of the bright prospects for Sino-Ghanaian relations. Both countries are pursuing the goal of development, and with a solid foundation for their ties and strong complementarity, bilateral cooperation can only become stronger in the future.

People of both countries are unswervingly pursuing better lives. The Ghanaian people are making efforts to build a better Ghana, while the Chinese people are striving to realize the China Dream. With the sincere efforts of both sides, the dreams of the two peoples will eventually come true and the relationship between the two countries will move ever forward like the Yangtze and Volta rivers.

The author is a Beijing-based scholar of international relations.

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