Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration-designate, has held a bilateral meeting with Mr Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, in Accra.
Mr Bogdanov, who is also the Special Presidential Representative of Russia for the Middle East and Africa, led a delegation comprising Russian Foreign Ministry officials and private business people to Ghana to explore business opportunities in the mining and related sectors in Ghana.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey recalled the historic and enduring relations existing between Ghana and Russia and expressed the hope that the visit of the Russian delegation would invigorate the relations for the benefit of the two countries as new opportunities were identified.
She, further, recalled with fond memories her visit to Moscow in August 2019, at the instance of her Russian counterpart, Mr Sergey Lavrov, which further strengthened relations between the two countries and the participation of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the Russia-Africa Summit held at Sochi in October 2019.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey acknowledged the immense contribution that Russia had made and continued to make towards the socio-economic development of Ghana and indicated that Russia’s award of scholarships to many Ghanaian students over the years to study in Russia had produced essential human resource capacity to facilitate the development of the country.
The Minister-designate expressed concern that in recent years the Scholarship Secretariat of Ghana and the Russian Mission had had some differences in the award of scholarships and call for a speedy resolution of the difficulties.
She requested that Russia increased the number of scholarships provided yearly to about one hundred to consolidate the enduring friendship between the two countries.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey mentioned the potential for cooperation between Russian diplomatic training institutions and the Ministry’s Foreign Service Institute, which was nearing completion.
She requested the Russian side to consider offering short courses in Russian Language training to Officers of the Ministry to facilitate interactions between the two Foreign Ministries.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey stated Ghana’s interest in initiating discussions with the Russian Government on the acquisition of the Russian made Vaccine, Sputnik-V as soon as possible, to help Ghana fight the COVID-19 infections.
She welcomed the interest shown by GBP Global Resources, to invest in Ghana and indicated that the gold refinery at Tarkwa, which was built by the former Soviet Union, could be worth considering as an investment opportunity.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey added that the interest of GBP Global Resources in engaging in the gold refinery business was in harmony with the Government of Ghana’s agenda of value addition to its vast natural resources to promote economic development and provide jobs for the burgeoning youth.
She assured the Russian envoy of Ghana’s commitment to expediting the processes involved to enable GBP Global Resources to invest in gold, manganese and other related industries.
She said the Russia-Africa Summit boosted relations with countries in Africa and invited the Russian Envoy to indicate Russia’s policy for engaging with Africa, following the successful Summit.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey acknowledged that despite the excellent relations between Ghana and Russia, trade volumes between the two countries had been low and disclosed that the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would provide a big opportunity for Russian businesses to take advantage of the 1.2 billion African market size, with Ghana as the entry point.
She bemoaned the low levels of investment between the two countries and called for more Russian investments in Ghana, especially in the field of energy and the petrochemical industry, following the entry into the Ghanaian market of LUKOIL and ROSNEFT.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey provided assurances of Ghana’s commitment towards negotiating with Russia, the Agreement on Investment Promotion and Protection as well as the Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation to guarantee Russian investors the security of their investments.
She said as a means of enhancing bilateral relations, Ghana was earnestly preparing to host the Fourth Session of the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation this year, and stated that Ghana had received the suggestions from Russia regarding the April meeting to discuss the outcome of the 3rd Session and the holding of the 4th Session in October 2021.
Mr Bogdanov, who commended Ghana’s participation in the last Russia-Africa Summit, also congratulated President Akufo-Addo on his re-election for a second term as head of ECOWAS.
He noted that his country had already started the preparation for the next Russia-Africa Summit, which would take place in Africa.