AmCham President Ayesha Bedwei Ibe;
Distinguished Guests; Friends, Ladies, and Gentlemen; All protocols observed:
Good evening, everyone! I’m very pleased to be here this evening to celebrate Thanksgiving — and to celebrate with all of you.
As you know, Thanksgiving is a cherished family holiday among Americans. I’d say it is a holiday that is particularly loved by diplomats and expatriates who are located far away from their family of birth, but who forge a new family in their host country with friends such as you.
In fact, it was one year ago at this very event that I met many of you for the first time. It was my first official event in Ghana and the first in two and a half years following the outbreak of the pandemic. And while we are still living with the threat of COVID, I am thankful that we seem to have finally moved on.
The tradition of Thanksgiving is not lost on us – it came out of a time of scarcity and struggle in American history. It affords us an opportunity to take a pause and reflect. As we look back on the events of the last year, there is indeed much to reflect on.
We continued our tremendous government, corporate, and personal efforts to address the pandemic. We also pivoted to address a new range of problems.
We experienced many ripple effects from Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine – from food security to inflation. We saw the real-time destructive effects of climate change in many countries this year.
Government policymakers, companies, and individuals here in Ghana are also grappling with significant economic challenges. But Thanksgiving is also an opportunity…to be thankful. For example, we are thankful that Ghana and the United States this year, made the World Cup!
I hope this year’s tournament can unite the world in the spirit of competition and solidarity as we work to address the common challenges we face in the world.
Here at home, we are also thankful for the tremendous work the business community is doing in Ghana despite the economic headwinds. The awards tonight celebrate much of this work. As exemplary corporate citizens, you donated and delivered critical medical supplies during the pandemic.
You promote sustainability and renewable energy in your own operations and lead on the transition to clean energy. You build schools and sponsor STEM training for Ghana’s youth, to name a few initiatives.
In doing so, you create pathways for self-reliance in communities across Ghana, improving their quality of life and their prospects for the future.
The AmCham remains a leader and partner with the Embassy and the Government of Ghana. We want to deepen our work with you to both improve the business environment and help Ghana address its structural challenges.
You are not just investors in Ghana, you are invested in Ghana’s future success. And that is why we must ask more of you – your efforts are essential for Ghana’s resilience and its economic recovery.
In a few weeks, the United States will welcome the President of Ghana and other African Heads of State to the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. The Summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa.
It will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation, including efforts to address current economic, regional, and global challenges. Ghana is central to this, serving as a beacon of democracy and stability in this region, a critical leader within ECOWAS, and a global player at the United Nations and on issues of import, such as climate change.
However, the Ghanaian people are now facing real struggles, with high food and transport costs as well as rising food insecurity.
Businesses too, including your own, are having to make difficult choices as you try to manage the stressors of this economic crisis and support your employees. As we take time to think back on the blessings of the year, we must all consider how to seize the opportunities that are offered in a time of crisis to effect meaningful, perhaps difficult, change to bring long-term prosperity to all Ghanaians.
This is a matter of urgency! We must encourage the government’s efforts to quickly address the situation, including concluding an agreement with the IMF. At the same time, with the American entrepreneurial spirit alive and well among members of the AmCham, we must channel it to serve Ghana in this time of need.
As businesses that respect the rule of law and operate transparently, you have an important role to play in engaging the government on key reforms that can strengthen the business environment and attract new investments into Ghana.
We encourage those here – as key players in this economy – to use your voices to raise concerns and collaborate with the Government on business climate reforms to drive sustainable economic growth and opportunity. We are all facing strong headwinds coming from international economic and security developments this year.
I am proud that despite those headwinds, the Embassy and the AmCham sustained our momentum to expand the U.S. – Ghana commercial relationship through events such as the U.S.-Ghana Business Forum, diaspora outreach, and our franchising workshop, to name a few.
In closing, allow me to congratulate in advance tonight’s honorees and award recipients.
Please join me in remembering those who may have less this year and who may be suffering from a job loss or financial challenges. You are not forgotten. And it is my hope that our trade and commercial relationship will continue to grow and benefit all Ghanaians.
Let’s give thanks for the many blessings in our lives, both big and small, and in remembering that at the heart of this holiday… is the spirit of togetherness.
I wish you all an enjoyable evening and a Happy Thanksgiving!