Sierra Leonean Leader Julius Maada Bio, who is on a two-day official visit to Ghana, made the request when he met President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House in Accra on Monday.
He said Sierra Leone had followed keenly Ghana’s progress in implementing the Free Senior High School Policy (FSHS), and had subsequently factored Ghana’s experiences into the implementation of that of his country, to scale up and improve the socio-economic fortunes of that West African nation.
Ghana, Mr Maada Bio said, was had made significant strides in many areas, and had become an example of other countries in the West African region and on the Continent, thus there was a lot his country could learn from Ghana.
“Today Ghana is way ahead. Ghana has been with us at difficult times and at this point in time as we prepare to start our own development process proper, I am here to let you know that we acknowledge the fact that you have made admirable strides and we think that we should learn from your experience,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo on his part noted that the historical and cultural ties between Ghana and Sierra Leone were borne largely out of trade and education, dating back two centuries.
He said Mr Bio’s presence in Ghana “should spur our two nations on to develop stronger ties and explore several areas of co-operation to the mutual benefit of our two peoples.”
The President praised the Sierra Leonean leader for implementing “Free Quality Education” initiative in his country, urging him “to stand firm and see it through, regardless of the opposition you will face.”
“For us in Ghana, our Free Senior High School education policy, within the first two years of its implementation, has ensured that 270,000 more students, whose education would otherwise have been truncated for financial reasons, have access to secondary education,” the President said.
President Akufo-Addo told Mr Bio that it was his desire that Ghana and Sierra Leone continually searched for ways to co-operate, irrespective of who was at the helm of affairs of their respective countries.
“I have no doubt, however, that, together, the two of us can forge a new, strong partnership for cooperation between our two nations for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.”
The President also lauded the Sierra Leonean President’s initiatives in the area of agriculture, aimed at enhancing food security for the people of that country.
“It was also good to see Your Excellency sign the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, during the 31st African Union Summit, in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
I will, respectfully, urge your Government to see to the expeditious ratification of the Agreement, so that we can quickly reach the minimum threshold of ratification by twenty-two-member states that will enable the CFTA to come into effect, and permit our continent to take advantage of its huge market.
“This will present great opportunities to increase intra-African trade, create jobs, enhance incomes, and put the continent onto the path of progress and prosperity. In so doing, it is equally important for us to take the necessary measures that will make our regional market of ECOWAS effective, as a sound building block for the success of the CFTA. If our regional markets work well, our continental market will work well.”
With both leaders reviewing the bilateral relations between the two countries, President Akufo-Addo assured his Sierra Leonean counterpart that Ghana would, within its modest means, support the education, health, sanitation and other initiatives of his government, stating, “The details and modalities will be worked out shortly, and the commitments will be upheld.”
He made a passionate call to his West African counterpart to forge synergies that would address the security challenges, particularly the terrorist menace that was engulfing the Sahel sector.
“We are required to be resolute and find, together in the region, the necessary economic, political and military means to reverse this pernicious development, and bring peace and stability to the lives of all our people in our region,” he noted.
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