A new chapter in the France-Ghana bilateral relationship was opened in November 2017 with the visit of the President of the French Republic to Ghana (first visit of a French Head of State) to illustrate the new outlook for relations between France and its African partners. The French President’s speech was well received by the francophone and francophile Ghanaian President, who is promoting more responsible development which is not reliant on international assistance, and an increased influence of the French language in Ghana.
Since 2013, annual bilateral political dialogue has been set up at the level of the Secretaries-General of the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The most recent session took place in Paris in early April 2018.
Recent visits of French officials to Ghana:
- August 2015: Visit by Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy
- October 2016: Visit by Manuel Valls, Prime Minister
- January 2017: Visit by Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, for the investiture of President Akufo-Addo.
- April 2017: Visit by Michel Sapin, Minister for the Economy and Finance
- December 2017: Visit by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic
Recent visits of Ghanaian officials to France:
- October 2005: Official visit of President Kufuor
- December 2015: Participation by President Mahama in the opening session of COP21
- September 2016: Meeting in Paris between President Mahama and President Hollande
Fluctuating growth figures over the past four years have affected French-Ghanaian bilateral trade: following an exceptional year in 2015 (French exports were up 136%), bilateral trade slowed considerably in 2016, with French sales down 41.5% and French purchases from Ghana hit even harder (down 51%). The slowdown continued in 2017, but to a lesser extent (a drop of 17.1% in French exports).
Ghana is now only our sixth-largest customer in West Africa and 14th in sub-Saharan Africa. Trade between France and Ghana only accounts for 1.8% of Ghana’s total imports and exports, down from between 3% and 3.5% over the five previous years. These fluctuations are due to the fact that French exports are concentrated around three sectors (mechanical equipment linked with the hydrocarbons sector, refined petroleum products, pharmaceutical products) which account for 70% of total trade. There is strong potential for development in the areas of energy, especially renewable energies, non-food consumer goods, and services and equipment linked to sustainable development.
Among the contracts signed over the past two years were those for equipment to provide links between the coast and Sankofa’s offshore gas field (a €200 million contract which was secured by Technip) and Eiffage, which signed a €30 million contract for a substation as part of the work to connect the Ghanaian and Burkina Faso electricity networks. Eiffage was also hired by MPS (a joint venture comprising Bolloré, Maersk and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority) to build a US$120 million port platform at the new port of Tema, which was the largest PPP project in Ghana’s history.
About 60 branches of French companies with a total investment capital of €1.4 billion are currently set up in Ghana, which is the 78th-ranked destination for French foreign direct investment on the continent, fourth within ECOWAS and third among Africa’s English-speaking countries (after Nigeria and South Africa), but France’s economic presence is still not in line with Ghana’s medium- and long-term economic potential.
However, the year 2017 saw renewed interest in Ghana from French companies: the launch of Air France’s direct Paris-Accra flight, the opening of the first Decathlon shop in the country, low-carbon energy projects by Engie, the launch of mobile banking by Société Générale and Lafarge Holcim’s involvement in building a local cement works. Over the past year, about half a dozen more companies have set up in Ghana, including EDF, Eiffage Construction, SPIE, Entreprose and SMEs in the mining sector (Delta Drone), agri-business (Cycle Farms) and energy (Tysilio). In November 2016, construction also began on the future port of Tema, a project totalling $1.5 billion to be undertaken by a consortium led by Bolloré.
It is important to highlight that French companies have a long-term investment strategy in Ghana, demonstrating their belief in the future of the country. They are contributing to efforts to diversify the Ghanaian economy while practising a policy of social responsibility (e.g. training, the fight against deforestation, integrating rural communities, social housing) in order to help develop the country.
A recent delegation from MEDEF International in June 2018 enabled discussions to be opened on future French investments in Ghana.
The ongoing commitments for France and those planned for the 2017-2020 period are expected to reach €220 million, essentially through non-sovereign loans from the AFD and its subsidiary Proparco.
Other cooperation work, carried out bilaterally and in addition to the joint European programme, fall under the sectors of:
- Teaching of French and the Francophonie (Priority Solidarity Fund for French as a Foreign Language (FLE) at high school and university, teacher training, support for Ghana joining the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
- University cooperation and student mobility (partnerships between French and Ghanaian institutions, a 50% increase since 2015 in the number of Ghanaians studying in France)
- Cultural action (presence of an Institut Français and support for Ghana’s only linguistic and cultural agency, the network of five Alliance Française branches)
- Sustainable development / climate change (post COP21 and COP22 monitoring, Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), debating ideas, etc.)
- Support for civil society and the rule of law (PSF PISCCA supporting Ghanaian civil society, condemnation of the death penalty, anti-corruption, migration, etc.)
- Health (contribution to the Global Fund Country Coordination Mechanism; the 5% Initiative project with the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) to step up the fight against malaria among pregnant women)
Our military cooperation with Ghana is mainly focused on training. It includes French participation in the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), French-language teaching in the military sphere, and the training of Ghanaian officers in France or at regionally-oriented national schools (ENVRs). A liaison officer works as a course director at the KAIPTC, where they help most notably with the French language skills of Ghanaian troops. They are responsible for organizing annual training courses for West African field officers and for relations with other peacekeeping training centres in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) area. In liaison with the non-resident defence attaché posted in Lomé (Togo), they are the interlocutor for the Ghanaian Armed Forces and propose and coordinate military and defence cooperation initiatives.
As part of the G7++ Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, an international forum for supporting the implementation of the Yaoundé process and thus for improving maritime security in the area, Ghana agreed to co-chair the body with France for 2019.
Our police cooperation is focused on expertise and training missions, notably as regards the fight against terrorism (cooperation which was successfully launched in 2016), narcotics trafficking and organized crime.
Together with the EU delegation, Germany and four other Member States, France supports and is committed to the new joint programming process aimed at channelling and pooling actions and resources in priority sectors, making them more visible and coherent with the objectives of the Ghanaian Government. The joint programming document will focus on the fields of governance and decentralization, the economy (support for the private sector, notably for agriculture and energy) and the fight against climate change and for gender equality. In 2017, trade between Ghana and the EU reached €5.5 billion. The EU is Ghana’s main market for its agricultural produce (cocoa beans and processed cocoa, canned tuna). The EU is also supporting Ghana through cooperation programmes.
Ghana is benefitting from the European partners’ Joint Programming strategy (2017-2020). The Joint Programming process particularly aims to support Ghana as it evolves and as it consolidates its position as a middle-income country, its economic growth and democratic governance. The goal is to move towards a mutually beneficial partnership and to begin using more strategic forms of cooperation. With a budget of about €1.25 billion for 2018-2021, this programming is focused on two priority sectors identified by the government of Ghana in its Long-term National Development Plan, i.e. support for the private sector and for governance.
- support for the private sector (including agriculture, rural development, fishing, forestry, energy, industry, social welfare, etc.) meeting the goal set by the government to build an industrial, inclusive and resilient economy (€886.4 million).
- governance (decentralization, mutual accountability, fighting corruption, public finance, fiscal policy, etc.) in response to the goal to build effective, efficient and vibrant institutions (€364.2 million).
France’s contribution to the budget is about €199.5 million (of which €157.5 million had already been allocated in 2017).
Updated: 4 April 2019