Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Akufo-Addo of the Republic of Ghana Before Bilateral Meeting
Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
11:17 A.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, it is my honor to welcome you, Mr. President, to the White House. And I’m very much looking forward to our conversation today, which is a reaffirmation of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Ghana.
And, of course, we have deep and historical ties. Our official bilateral relationship began in 1957, but of course, there are longer — and longer-standing ties that connect the people of our nations.
Over the years, many Americans have traveled to Ghana to remember the history of slavery and to honor their roots and understand their ancestry. And the African diaspora in the United States, including my home state of California, is significant, and our nation is stronger for it.
We — these two nations — share a commitment to democracy. Last December, the people of Ghana voted in a free and fair election that demonstrated your nation’s commitment to democratic principles and institutions.
We share a view that all people must have a voice in their future, that our democracies are stronger when everyone participates and weaker when anyone is left out.
We also share a commitment to global health. None of us have been immune from the ravages of the pandemic. We recognize our shared responsibility to collaborate, to share resources to not only continue to address the effects of COVID-19, but to prepare for the next pandemics.
And in that way, the United States is proud to be a member of COVAX and the African Union, and has donated more than 1.2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Ghana. And I’m proud to announce that we will, shortly, send more than 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Finally, we are working together to expand our economic relationship. You and I have talked about that briefly before we came in. American companies continue to ramp up in Ghana, understanding the significance of the work that they do there to America’s economy, much less to the partnership between Ghana and the United States.
And they do this also because they have confidence in the government of Ghana and the environment, Mr. President, that you have created, which allows for some confidence in the respect and upholding of the rule of law and human rights.
And so, with all of that, we look forward to continuing to work together on all of these issues, including in the context of the United Nations Security Council. And again, I am honored to formally welcome you to the White House.
Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO: So, Madam Vice President, first of all, I want to thank you very much for the invitation to come — to come have this brief visit with you.
Your country is one of the most important friends of Ghana and has been right from the time of our independence. We value the relationship. And any opportunity, therefore, that we have to meet with the leaders of America, we have to take it, and that is what has brought me here to the White House.
Our commitments are very much the same commitments as you have. We want to develop our nation as a democracy, as a country where freedom and the respect for human rights and the rule of law are paramount to our system of governance.
Our big challenge — and it is a challenge of all those who want to develop democratic institutions on our continent — is to ensure and reassure our people that democratic institutions can be a vehicle for the resolution of their big problem — that is economic development as the means to eradicate poverty on the continent.
So, that’s the investment that we have made, and it is an investment that you have been very supportive of. And we continue to appreciate your support.
We’ve had some difficult times in the country recently because of the COVID, like everybody else has had. Mercifully, its impact on us has been not as originally anticipated; it has been more mild than it has. Part of it is the work that the government did, and the others is the general environment in which the disease is working on the continent.
We’re grateful for the support that the United States government has given us in trying to deal with the virus, the COVAX facility, which America has been very strongly participant, and the support that we’ve had through the donation of 1.2 million doses of the Moderna and the promise you’ve made that more is on the way.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yes.
PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO: Our target is to try and vaccinate at least 20 million of our people by the end of this year. The Ghanaian population is some 30 million odd. And I think if we can achieve that, we will then be more confident about defeating the virus, in the context of Ghana.
The main — other main preoccupation for us is the cooperation that we have to put together to defeat the jihadist insurgency in the Sahel. It’s a major security preoccupation. And the G5 Sahel, ECOWAS, the Lake Chad initiative — all these are the organizations that have come together to try and push back. I believe that’s an area to where — the support of the United States government.
And it’s important that we set off right — right within. We’re not seeking military assistance in the form of American troops or otherwise. I know you just had a bad example for yourself of what American troops in some areas can do. We’re not seeking that.
We are looking for support for our armed forces and for the intelligence agencies of our area, that they can be in a stronger position. Many of those who are leading the jihadist insurrection in West Africa are the people who came from Iraq, after they were driven out from Iraq, to Ghana.
So, I think that there’s some information here that can assist us in being able to track down and deal with these people.
So, these are the main preoccupations that have brought me here to Washington to try and discuss with you and through you to President Biden. And, hopefully, it will advance our mutual causes and also strengthen the relations between our two countries.
I want, through you, to express my warm greetings to the President and indicate to him that, in Ghana, he has a friend in office, and the people of Ghana have a very good feeling towards the people of America.
So, thank you very much, once again, for the invitation. I’m hoping it will be not the first or last time during this, my second — the last term in office that I have the opportunity to come here in Washington to me to with you.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, we are honored to receive and greet you. Welcome, Mr. President. Welcome.
PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO: Thank you very much indeed.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Welcome.
Thank you all.
11:25 A.M. EDT