Ghana commemorates 53rd Anniversary of International Organisation of La Francophonie

Ghana on Monday commemorated the 53rd Anniversary of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) with a flaghoisting ceremony at the forecourt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Accra. Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration hoisted the flag of Ghana, while that of the OIF was hoisted by Mr Maher Kheir, the Ambassador of Lebanon to Ghana and President of the La Francophone Ambassadors Group. The Francophonie is an institution, dedicated since 1970 to promoting the French language and political, educational, economic, and cultural cooperation among the 88 member countries of the OIF. This year, Ghana has taken the commemoration of the Francophonie Week a step higher to enhance the visibility of La Francophonie in Ghana. The week-long celebration is from 18th March to 25th March. Speaking at the flaghoisting ceremony, Madam Ayorkor Botchwey on behalf of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Government and People of Ghana, extended felicitations to Madam Louise Mushikiwabol, the Secretary General of La Francophonie and her staff for their hard work in moving the Organisation forward despite the numerous global challenges and political crises that had beset the Francophone space. The Minister congratulated her, especially for her able leadership, which had invigorated the Organisation to provide adequate responses to the myriad 21st Century challenges facing humanity ranging from security, environmental, technological, and digital revolution to gender equality issues. She said Ghana applauded the flagship projects that she had initiated to enhance the visibility and relevance of the organisation, ‘La Francophonie avec elle’ which was a poverty alleviation initiative to assist women in distress situations. Adding that it was a worthy cause which Ghana supported and made modest contributions to the seed fund. ‘I hope the fund grows and serves more women in the French speaking world in this difficult post- COVID era,’ Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said. She said the Youth Development programmes aimed at involving the youth in governance issues as well as the Francophone games were laudable programmes that would change the narrative of the Francophone world, if well implemented. On the founding fathers of the OIF, she said as Africans, it was with extreme pride that they paied tribute to the founding fathers of this all-important Organisation, which was born on 20th March 1970, exactly 53 years ago by four Heads of State, three of whom were Africans and one Asian. She said the International Organisation of La Francophonie boasted of 88 Member States and other Non-State Actors, thanks to the visionary leadership of President Léopold Sédar Senghor of Senegal, President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, President Hamani Diori of Niger, and Prince Norodom Sihanouk, ‘King Father’ of Cambodia. ‘Our delight in belonging to this robust Organisation founded on such noble principles as the promotion of the French language, cultural and linguistic diversity, the promotion of peace, democracy and human rights, which are at the core of our constitution, cannot be over emphasised,’ she said. ‘We share in the need to support education, training, higher education and research as we are committed to enhanced economic cooperation between us and the five continents of the Francophonie world, in pursuit of sustainable development’. Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said considering that La Francophonie accounted for over 1.5 billion people, representing one third of UN member countries, and Africa had the largest number of French speakers accounting for 55 per cent of the continental population; saying ‘we are happy to say that Africa holds the key to the future of La Francophonie’. She said since 2006, when Ghana was admitted into this rich Francophone world of cultural diversity, the country had remained active and engaged. The Minister said various Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding signed between Ghana and the OIF had afforded Ghana the opportunity to enjoy fruitful collaborations with the Organisation and its member states. She said the Linguistic Pact signed in May 2018 and the Teacher Mobility Programme signed between both sides in November 2021 were notable examples of their engagements. She said within the context of the Teacher Mobility Programme, Ghana had played host to over 20 French teachers drawn from various Francophone countries, who were helping to improve the quality of teaching and learning of French in all the regions of the country across various sectors. ‘Ghana is therefore excited to become a full member of this essential organization, whose relevance to the socio-economic development of our country cannot be overlooked,’ she said. ‘We are well on our way to achieving full membership and we fervently hope that the 2024 summit will see Ghana transition to this status.’ On his part, Mr Kheir said President Akufo-Addo had on many occasions given his support to La Francophonie and the French Language, which proved the fraternal relations Francophones shared with Ghana.

Source: Ghana News Agency