On 28th September, 2006, Ghana was formally admitted into “L’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)”, an international organization representing countries where French is the “mother” language; and/or where a significant proportion of the population are French speakers; and/or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture. It is the French equivalent of the British Commonwealth.
As Minister for Foreign Affairs, under the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government, I was privileged to lead the negotiations at the Francophonie Summit in Budapest, Romania, attended by the then French President, Jacques Chirac, which resulted in Ghana becoming an Associate Member of La Francophonie, without first having to be made an Observer Member. Ghana is one of a handful of countries that enjoy membership of both the Commonwealth and La Francophonie.
As Ghana celebrates Francophone week, with this year’s event focussing on the “Francophone’s economic weight in the world”, it is important that we do not lose sight of the significant and strategic mutual benefits that guided the decision taken to make Ghana a member of this organisation.
According to the OIF, French was the fifth most spoken language in the world in 2014. It also estimates that the number of French speakers will rise to over 700 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa. Our lives as Ghanaians are intimately linked with the Francophone world, particularly in West Africa, and this strategic association should serve as a big boost to addressing some of our mutual concerns.
It is also in Ghana’s strategic interest that we promote regional integration. Ghana has to play a central role in hastening the process of creating a genuine regional market out of ECOWAS, which is dominated by Francophone countries. This will provide a ready market for the free movement of our goods and services which is critical in our quest to transforming and modernising our economy.
I wish a successful Francophone week to OIF.
2016 NPP Presidential Candidate