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Ghana Deserves Praise — Danish Minister   
 
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27-Nov-2017  
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Anders Samuelsen
 
 
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The Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs has described Ghana as a bright spot in Africa that deserves praise for striving to grow its democracy.

 Mr Anders Samuelsen said the country had consistently shown that its democratic values were worth emulating.

“These few days here have shown me that this is a stable country with high democratic values and with a focus on growing new opportunities,” Mr Samuelsen stated when the Daily Graphic spoke to him on the sidelines of a meeting with some of the country’s young entrepreneurs.
  
IEA meeting

Organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the event served as a platform for the young entrepreneurs to discuss their prospects and challenges with the Danish Foreign minister and his team.

The young entrepreneurs cut across technology start-ups, cosmetics, food and beverage, clothes designs, shoe making, furniture, water provision and lifestyle products.

Mr Samuelsen, who was in the country on a two-day visit with Danish Queen Margrethe II, said entrepreneurship was a key element of development.

Aid to trade  

With the Danish government shifting focus from aid to trade as part of its economic engagement with the developing world, Mr Samuelsen observed that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of developing Ghana beyond aid was one that would transit the country from aid to trade, thereby attracting investments locally and internationally.

“This means creating more businesses and more jobs. We came with 39 companies, which are interested in different fields,” he added.

The participants mentioned some of the challenges inhibiting entrepreneurship in the country to include an educational system that was disconnected from the needs of industry, lack of skilled personnel, lack of financial support and inadequate capacity-building programmes for young entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs & future

Coming from a country considered to be highly entrepreneurial friendly, Mr Samuelsen said it was inspiring to meet young, bright entrepreneurs with great spirits to change things around them, as well as create businesses that would meet the needs of society.

“What we have been able to do in Denmark is to make it very easy to start a new business. We have more or less everything outlined such that you can easily register your businesses without difficulties. The future belongs to you. You are your country’s young population and entrepreneurship is in you. Entrepreneurship creates unique opportunities to create something special that can lead to economic growth, job creation and solve problems of your country,” he said.

Headaches 

Contributing to the discussions, Mr Amfo-Akonnor, the owner and chef at Biishville, a restaurant, observed that Ghana’s educational system was full of theory and lacked practical training that would awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship among young people.

The founder and CEO of Mansuki Ghana Limited, a company that produces cosmetics, Ms Israella Mansu made a case for capacity building for young entrepreneurs when she stated that a training programme she attended in the United States (organised by the US Department of State) changed the fortune of her GH¢300 start-up to one worth more than GH¢1 million today.

For his part, the Co-founder and General Manager of SMSGH, a mobile and internet value added service (VAS) provider, Mr Alex Adjei Bram, said the way forward to growing entrepreneurship in Ghana was to provide an enabling environment in which taxes did not stifle growth but entrepreneurs were supported to expand and employ others.

Adding value

Earlier, the Board Chairman of the IEA, Mr Charles Mensa, observed that President Akufo-Addo’s vision of Africa beyond aid was tied with Denmark’s “policy of from aid to trade.”

“However, in our humble view, this vision of ours and the Danish policy can be very successful if Ghana is able to trade value added products or manufactured goods and services, using our abundant labour. If that happens, we can drastically cut down the number of young country- men and women who try to escape our shores and risk everything, including their lives, to cross the Mediterranean to get into Europe,” he said.  

Ghana-Denmark relations 

Ghana-Denmark relations stretch back to the days of colonialism in the 18th century when the then Gold Coast was made a Danish crown colony in 1650.

However, in 1850, the Danish government sold its major stakes in the Gold Coast such as forts and castles, including what would later become Ghana’s seat of government for years—Christianborg (Osu)—to the British.

Soon after Ghana’s independence in 1957, Denmark assisted the newly independent country by building and running the Folk High School at Tsito in the Volta Region.

This was one of the first development projects in Africa, carried out by a Danish NGO. The official development cooperation between Ghana and Denmark began in 1958.

In 1961, a Danish Embassy was opened in Accra. However, due to political developments, the embassy was closed again in 1983 to be opened eight years later. Denmark’s support for Ghana over the last 30 years through its aid agency, Danida, has been in areas including good governance, skills development, rural finance and business advocacy.
 
 
Source: Daily Graphic
 
 

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