President of Ghana,Â Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the United States government to support West Africa to combat Â the growing Islamic terror threat in the region.
Speaking to a US Bipartisan Congressional delegation that called on him at the Jubilee House, Accra on Friday, he noted that the threat posed by expanding Islamic network was detrimental to the socio-economic development of the region
The President told the delegation, who are in the country to evaluate US governmentâ€™s projects and USAID programmes and investments, that the growing threat of terrorism in the region was a direct consequence on the USâ€™s decade-long fight against terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.
He said terrorism in the region began when the US government drove out Al-Qaeda and other jihadist fighters from the Middle East about a decade ago and was further exacerbated by the downfall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya.
The operations of terrorist groups, which were formally confined to countries bordering the Sahel have now encroached deeper into West Africa because Jihadists who were driven out of Afghanistan and Iraq by the US government took advantage of the security situation in Libya to cross the Sahara to find refuge in the northern parts of Mali.
â€œSince then, they have been systematically waging war with Mali,â€ he told the delegation and added that the was the need for interlocking measures and international cooperation to stop the spread of terrorism from the Sahel to the coastal areas of the West African region.
Ghana remains one of the few countries in the sub-region that have not experienced terror attacks despite its nearness to terrorism-prone nations like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria.
However, the country is predisposed to terror attacks because Burkina Faso, which borders Ghana, was gradually becoming the epicenter of jihadist movement in thew region.
President Akufo-Addo told the delegation that though countries in the region were coordinating efforts to combat the Jihadist threat, financial constraints had limited the capacity to mount a robust defense against the spread of the tentacles of jihadists.
He noted that the European Union and the British government were currently supporting strategic efforts at combating terrorism and appealed to the US government to also lend support to the region.
On the economic ties between Ghana and the US, the President called for increased American investments, particularly in the railway sector, to boost the countryâ€™s development.
He told the delegation that â€œyour areas of concern for coming to Ghana are equally our concernâ€¦we are looking for a major American investment in Ghana.â€
â€œWe need to strengthen economic ties between our two countries. We had one during our independence era when Kaiser and Kwame Nkrumah got together to promote the Akosombo Dam and the Valco Aluminum smelter which was a major US investment that has placed dividends several times over.
He lauded the â€œextremely strong and committed relations that exist between our two countries,â€ saying the ties between Ghana and the US â€œis important to us and we will continue to work to improve, expand and deepen that relationship.â€
Madam Barbara Lee, leader of the Sub-committee on State and Foreign Operations of the US congress, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said stressed the need for the US and Ghana to â€œreinforce our strong relationship.â€
â€œWe know you have challenges, but we also know how progress is being made in Ghana. We are blessed to be here and be able to go to the United States to make recommendations for strengthening our relationsâ€¦ We intend to work with you to strengthen relations,â€ she said.