ACCRA, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana has stressed the need for Africa and Europe to forge closer, more meaningful partnerships which will promote trade and investment between both continents.

Ghana and the rest of Africa are looking forward to a more candid, equal, improved, mutually beneficial and not a one-sided, donor-recipient relationship with Europe, he told a media conference here Tuesday after holding talks with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

He said Africa sought clarity with regards to relations with Europe, particularly long-term strategies for sustainable development and trade and was optimistic that the African Union-European Union (AU-EU) summit taking place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on Wednesday and Thursday would help redefine the relationship between the two continents.

“Looking at issues of common concern, the development of our economy, the issue of migration, issues of terrorism that confront both our continents, it is my expectation and hope that Ghana and Italy will play very constructive roles tomorrow (at the summit) in defining this new understanding, this new relationship between Europe and Africa.”

Commending Italy for its role in Ghana’s infrastructural development dating back to the independence era, President Akufo-Addo said Ghana had resolved to deepen its relations with Italy, as well as explore areas of interest that would be mutually beneficial to both countries.

He acknowledged the support Italy had given Ghana over the years, saying that, although investments between the two countries were modest, the Italian State-owned energy company, ENI, had changed that equation by making the biggest investment so far in Ghana.

The President said the ENI investment was extremely important for Ghana’s future, and was upbeat that the move would not only develop the country’s oil deposits but its gas resources as well. “The involvement of ENI in our oil sector gives us the opportunity to become increasingly self-sufficient in our energy generation. We are looking forward for greater intercourse with ENI that would allow us to go into other areas of the energy portfolio.”

Gentiloni said he was hopeful that the over 60 years of diplomatic relations between Ghana and Italy would be deepened by his visit. He praised Ghana’s stability and democratic credentials, which he said, was an example that other African states should emulate.

The Prime Minster said the EU-AU summit would mark the beginning of a new direction for trade and economic co-operation between countries constituting the EU and AU.

He announced a 25 million Euro grant to the government of Ghana targeted at Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to support the acquisition of machinery to help boost production.