Mr. Costello, who has responsibility for trade and development issues, expressed Ireland's confidence in Ghana's economy, which World Bank statistics identify as one of the world's fastest growing. Mr. Costello stated that this economic growth, coupled with the advances in Ghana's democratization process, was making the country considerably more attractive to foreign investment.
"My visit to Tema Port, which serves Ghana and the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali, will allow me to explore how Ireland, with our strong experience in the port sector, can further assist countries across Africa, which are developing their ports to increase trade and business opportunities," he said.
The Minister told officials that Ireland would remain a strong trading partner with Ghana, and would continue to support efforts such as the Port Training Programme that contribute to Ghana's sustainable development. Irish Aid, the Government of Ireland's programme of assistance for developing countries, provides financial support to the Port Training Programme.
Minister Costello and the Director General exchanging gifts
The programme is also supported by the Dublin Port Company and the Port of Cork, and additionally by the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.
The Minister's delegation included Patrick Fay, Irish Ambassador to Nigeria; Don Sexton, Sean Hoy and Niamh Browne of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; John Moore and Charles Murphy of the Dublin Port Company; Nick Feeney, Private Secretary to Minister Costello; John McNamara of Enterprise Ireland; and Breiffini Kennedy of the Irish Foods Board.
The delegation was received by Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHPA) Director-General Richard Anamoo and his management team, which included the Programme's focal points at the ports of Tema and Takoradi, Alphonse Wordi and Romeo T. Bortey.
Mr. Anamoo said that the ports of Tema and Takoradi together handled more than 90 per cent by volume of Ghana's foreign trade. He provided details of the GHPA's efforts to develop Takoradi into a global oil services hub, and to establish Tema as the leading container hub in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
The GHPA began participation in UNCTAD's Port Training Programme in 2009, as part of its quest for efficient and competitive port management services, Mr. Anamoo explained.
During the first cycle of the Port Training Programme, which took place at Tema Port, 15 middle managers, including six women, attained the UNCTAD Modern Port Management Certificate. During the second cycle, which is now under way at Takoradi Port, 26 middle managers have successfully completed the eight training modules and are drafting their final dissertations. They will defend their dissertations before a panel of experts in March 2013.
Two graduates of the Programme and a current participant spoke of their experiences, saying that the course of study had had positive results for their careers and for the ports where they work. In particular, they said, the knowledge gained had made it possible for them to take on more responsibility and to receive promotions.
Following the meeting, the Irish delegation was given a guided tour of Tema Port.