Meet Dr Ekwow Spio Garbrah; An Integral To Ghana-US Partnership
The current US Vice-President, Kamala Harris’ visited Ghana in the last week of March 2023. This an important sequel to a tradition that intensified in the mid-1990s during the Jerry Rawlings era which pioneered Ghana’s 4th Republic.
The stablest and longest democratic period in post-independence Ghana. The 66th anniversary of this political milestone was marked on the 6th of March 2023, and out of this 30 years have been under the belt of the present constitutional order.
Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah was appointed to the world’s largest democracy, the United States of America, USA, as Ambassador at the start of Jerry Rawlings’ first term in 1993. It was at a time Ghana crucially needed a public relations therapy to erase the insipidity that was perceived to characterize the relations between the two countries, as a result of the preceding long military junta rule under Jerry Rawlings.
It took the calculative but swift diplomacy engineered by Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah as Ghana’s chief diplomat in Washington DC to spark off the renewed engagement between the traditional sister countries whose relations had snowballed to some dormancy for some time. Of course, the reignition keys were handed to him by the Government of Ghana which was predisposed to the opening of a new chapter in their relations as Ghana reenacted itself into a functional democracy. The new dawn had a formidable platter in Ghana’s foreign ministry set-up led by Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah, the cause furthered by his successor, Mr. James Victor Gbeho.
It culminated in the first official and state visit to the United States by President Jerry Rawlings whose host was President Bill Clinton. Since then, the tradition has continued unabated. Bill Clinton paid a return visit to Ghana. His successor George Walker Bush Jnr also exchanged visits with Ghana’s President John Agyekum Kufour. The next phase was the John Atta Mills and the Barrack Obama-friendly exchanges in 2009 and 2012. President Donald Trump’s wife (the US First Lady) Melania Trump also paid a visit to Ghana in their time.
The Spio Garbrah-led diplomatic offensive fetched great dividends. Working closely with Bill Clinton’s Africa Representative, Madam Rosa Whitaker, and others, they set off the process, later to be upheld by the United States Government, for the enactment of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act, AGOA. This created safe corridors for selected African exports to the US market. Another major offspring of the growing relations has been the financial support to Ghana by the US Millennium Challenge Corporation, MCC, to shock-absorb and forge the economies of all recipient countries. President Kufour used part of the funds to construct the George Walker Bush (N1) highway in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.
The John Atta Mills and the John Mahama periods received similar economic assistance. In the Akufo Addo era, the United States magnified its military presence on the West Coast of Africa using Ghana as the staging post. It was for military training and a symbolic show of vigilance in the region that has lately been hit by a deadly wave of terrorism on The Sahel. Preceding this was a visit to Ghana by a top US diplomat, Samantha Powers in support of Ghana’s pivotal role in the 2014 Ebola fight in the region.
Long before the advent of Ghana’s 4th Republic touted as a beacon of democracy in Africa, US Vice-President (later the President) Richard Nixon had visited Ghana at its formative stages of nationhood. Former US President Jimmy Carter had also been visiting Ghana on his programme to eradicate polio in Africa. The Ghana Report can authoritatively report that the debilitating medical condition called polio has been kicked out of Ghana.
Dr. Spio Garbrah who started the process of improving the political climate between Ghana and the United States later became Ghana’s Minister in charge of portfolios such as Communications, Education, Mines, and Energy (in an acting capacity) and Trade and Industries. Internationally, he was a director at the African Development Bank, the Chief
Executive of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and others.
He had been active in international events, and on the occasion of the visit to Ghana by the British Queen Elizabeth II, in 1999, Dr. Spio Garbrah as Education Minister at the time played an integral role to make that historic visit a massive success.