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Politics of Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

President Mahama, Hollande hold talks in Paris

President Mahama and French President, Francois Hollande

President John Dramani Mahama yesterday held bilateral talks with the French President, Francois Hollande, at the Elysee Palace in Paris as Ghana and France took their relations a notch higher.

President Mahama, who was in the French capital in his capacity as Co-Chair of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to speak at a UNESCO forum on the importance of information and the media to sustainable development, with a focus on Goal 16 of the 2030 SDGs, rounded off his three-day visit with the bilateral talks with President Hollande.

He was received warmly by the French President at the historic Elysee Palace.

A detachment of the French Revolutionary Guards provided the ceremonial welcome, before President Hollande met and shook hands with the Ghanaian leader, after which they moved into a closed-door meeting.

Speaking to journalists after the talks, President Mahama said they discussed a range of issues bordering on private sector investment, security in West Africa, including the Mali and Nigeria issues, as well as "a few other matters of importance to the two countries".

On investment, he said French participation in Ghana had seen a tremendous upsurge and mentioned Touton Technip and Bolloré Africa Logistics as being among French companies that were telling positive stories in Ghana.

"Touton just last year opened a new cocoa processing plant in Ghana. It has also partnered with Ghana to take over the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) plant and it means that it is expanding its footprints in Ghana," the President said.

On Bolloré Africa Logistics, he said it had entered into a partnership with Meridian Port Services, APM Terminals and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority to invest $1.5 billion in the new deep-water 3.5 million Tema Port expansion project.

Technip, which is the leader of a consortium with Subsea 7, has been prominent in Ghana's oil and gas industry. The French company was awarded two contracts by Tullow for the TEN project.

Private sector

Hailing French involvement in Ghana's development strides, President Mahama said, "So French private sector investment is beginning to increase and I think we will create the right environment for that to continue."

Answering a question on whether Ghana's decision to go to the credit market would not have adverse effects on the country's Extended Credit Facility programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the President said, "Our public debt management is in agreement with the IMF."

He stated that the IMF was aware that Ghana was going to the credit market to take money, principally to retire the bonds that would become due in 2017.

"There is a balance of $400 million and so of the $750 million that we went on the market for, $400 million is going to retire next year's bond. And I think with that predictability, knowing that Ghana will not default on the bond that is upcoming, it increases international creditor confidence in Ghana," he stated.