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General News of Thursday, 17 August 2006

Source: GNA

Ghana, South Africa inaugurate Joint Defence C'ttee

Accra, Aug. 17, GNA - Ghana and South Africa on Thursday inaugurated a 17-member Joint Defence Committee, signalling the beginning of bilateral military cooperation between them as contained in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2002 by their Defence Specialists.

The Committee made up of nine Ghanaians and eight South Africans would commence work on the MOU, revise and improve it and speed up its implementation.

It would be co-chaired by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Defence, Mr Emmanuel Ofusu-Appiah and Deputy Director-General of Defence of South Africa, Mr Tsepe Motumi.

The MOU, which centres on training, technical cooperation and technology transfer, would be reviewed periodically.

It is envisaged that after a decade of cooperation, as stated in the terms of the MOU, Ghana would have a sophisticated armed force. At a short ceremony to inaugurate the Committee at Burma Camp in Accra, Defence Minister Dr Kwame Addo-Kufour said Ghana had had a history of cooperation with South Africa dating back to the early years of independence.

He said the relationship had been sustained over the years by the commitment of both countries to each other and by their resolve to ensure peace, progress and stability in their countries and the African Continent.

Dr Addo-Kufuor noted that in spite of all the assistance that Africa had received from development partners, it still faced huge challenges and it was the view of many in Ghana that one of the best ways of attaining socio-economic development was by cooperating with sister African countries.

"Cooperation in areas such as trade and commerce, agriculture, information technology and industry would contribute immensely to improve the lot of a Continent so richly endowed and yet so beset with poverty, want and deprivation."

The Minister said South Africa with its level of development, could serve as a bridge between Africa and the developed world in the Continent's quest for socio-economic development.

This, he said, was because the South African society had embedded in it pockets of the first world replete with advanced technology and state-of-the-art equipment and know-how.

These resources, if made available to the rest of the Continent, could enhance development and alleviate poverty.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said one particular area where both countries could mutually benefit was in defence training and military technology transfer.

He said it was in furtherance of achieving this objective that a group of defence specialists from both countries met and drew up a MOU mapping out specific areas in which they could cooperate.

The Minister said there were a lot more areas of cooperation which needed to be activated, such as the Ghana Military Academy, Jungle Warfare School, Junior Staff College and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre.

Dr Addo-Kufuor requested for places in South Africa for training programmes in such areas as defence technology and equipment transfer, communication, intelligence training and specialized courses for medical officers.

Additionally, there were various army, navy, and air force training programmes in South Africa, which could be of benefit to the Ghana Armed Forces.

Mr Motumi, who was the Head of the South African Delegation, said he was happy that the Committee had been finally inaugurated and stressed the need for it to speed up its work to ensure the early implementation of the agreement under the MOU.

Officers from South Africa have begun training at Ghana's Senior Staff College, while some Ghanaians have been seconded to the South African War College.

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