Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

On Ghana-Cuba-Brazil ties of co-operation

By Poku Adaa

Much publicity has been given to Brazilian investments in Ghana, and recently, there was a meeting of Ghanaian and Cuban experts in Accra to forge trade links between the two countries. Our correspondent reviews the economic co-operation between Ghana and the two South/Central American countries.
To many people who follow events in the West African sub-region, the relations between Ghana and Cuba is manifested only by the presence of over 600 Ghanaian youths on the Isle of Youth in Cuba, and the now less talked about Cuban troops deployment in Ghana. Of course Cuban international diplomacy has been one of military co-operation, however in so far as Ghana is concerned, the Cubans have been highlighting the economic side of their international cooperation.

The just-ended Ghana-Cuba Inter Governmental Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation held a series of meetings in Accra to explore further avenues of cooperation between the two countries. The Commission was initiated and inaugurated in Havana about two years ago when the Ghana political axis and ideological stance seemed to point to Cuba and her allies.

One can recall the affirmations and assurances of the Cuban Ambassadors in Ghana about their country's readiness to assist in Ghana's economic development. In agriculture, there have been an agreement for agricultural experts to exchange visits to learn about each others's agricultural methods and programmes, while in the field of Medicine, the initial batch of 16 Cuban doctors are now scattered in urban hospitals although it is widely known that language difficulties are hampering their ability to dispense Brazil. health care.

The meeting of the joint Commission in Accra was intended to augment the number of medical personnel and to find a solution to the language problem but above all to re- focus the attention on Ghana-Cuba relations following the apparent shift of the Ghana government towards the West.

In industry, the Cubans have offered to assist in revamping the problem-ridden sugar factories in the country. And in this particular area, they have been more vocal rather than active. They initiated a study of the Ghana Sugar Estates Ltd and produced a lengthy report to the Ministry of Industries nearly a year ago.

Since then nothing concrete has been done to the Sugar producing companies, which in any case have been subjected to SO many rehabilitations and reappraisals more than any other company in the country. Now that the Inter governmental Joint Commission has concluded its discussions, it is hoped that the agreements will be put to practical use for the benefit of both countries.

International development assistance and bilateral co-operation between developing countries as the central ingredient in South-South Co- operation is exemplified by the economic relations between Ghana and In the field of energy development, Brazil has had more dealings with developing countries such as Angola and Ghana.

A delegation of Ghanaian experts in energy production and utilisation have plans to visit Brazil to study that country's production methods in energy, the conservation of energy and the maintenance of equipment in the industry. There is a current CO- operation agreement, the Ghana-Brazil Technical Co-operation Programme, which puts more emphasis on the exploration of alternative sources of energy, training of personnel in energy management and specific technologies in the energy industry.

The recent initiative taken by Brazil, Ivory Coast and Ghana to develop a joint consultancy firm to advise on project management, circulate technological expertise and share development experience in the form of the Dony Development Engineering Limited can be seen as the beginning of a new dawn in the concept of co- operation among developing countries. There have, of late, been a surge in the level of credit and financial assistance from Brasilia to Accra. An initial amount of $40 million credit repayable in ten years, was granted to Ghana to be spent on housing and agricultural projects. Out of this amount, about $15 million has been earmarked for the setting up of brickmaking factories which intend to utilise locally available clay deposits. Another $15 million has been set aside for the production of roof tiles also to enhance the pace of Ghana's housing programme.

Already a Brazilian firm, Machine Schreinner has revealed plans to open a brick and tile demonstration factory in Ghana where a new Brazilian invention, a manually operated brick & tile machinery will be made available to Ghanaian institutions, companies and individuals for accelerating rural housing projects. Under the Technical Co-operation programme, new areas of interest to both countries have been identified:

These include assistance to Ghana Poultry industry and Cattle businesses in which new breeds of South American cattle are to be reared in Ghana. The Brazilians intend to introduce effective scientific ways of combating cattle diseases such as rinderpest. Still in agriculture, there have been a recent agreement between Ghana and Brazil whereby Ghana will receive technology for the construction of fertilizer formulation and granulating plant in Ghana, a project which has been lauded as a sign of meaningful co-operations which will involve phosphate procurement from neighbouring Togo.

In the area of water resources, the Brazilians intend to conduct research on the Volta river with a view to improving fishing, transportation and crop farming in the area. According to Mr Cristiano Stein who led a team of agronomists and soil scientists on a working visit to Ghana last year, they have a proposal for implementing a massive industrialisation programme and a biomedical research scheme in the Volta basin for which approval has been promised by the Food & Agriculture Organisation. The Brazilian team also elaborated plans for Ghana national Water a Programme involving the rehabilitation of the Kpong Water Works and existing irrigation systems. There are also recommendations for the development of indigenous methods of treating, storing, handling and marketing of grains and other agricultural farm produce. Another team made up of Sugar experts is to submit proposals for 100,000 a tonnes per annum sugar plant in the country.

Thus Ghana, Brazil, Cuba are setting the pace to harness their own resources for their own development and this trend needs encouragement

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