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Italy and Ghana

Italy and Ghana share a vision of international relations based on democracy and the rule of law, respect for human rights, the international promotion of peace and multilateralism and the fight against terrorism and trafficking in human beings. Italy has recognized Ghana since the year of its independence, 1957, and established an embassy in Accra in 1958.

The two countries maintain excellent bilateral relations, consolidated by numerous political missions at the highest levels. The most
recent visit took place on November 28, 2019, when Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met President Nana Akufo-Addo, inaugurated a pilot agricultural training center of ENI (the Okuafo Pa project) and gave a speech at the University of Ghana on a new partnership between Italy and Africa. During the visit, Ambassador Favilli and Defense Minister Nitiwul signed a defense cooperation agreement.

Before him, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini (5 November 2018) and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (27-29 November 2017) had recently visited Ghana. During his mission, Mr. Gentiloni spoke at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center and visited the ENI offshore oil and gas extraction platform “John Agyekum Kufuor”. An article published in the Daily Graphic summarized the main aspects of relations between Italy and Ghana. In early February 2016 the then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi completed the first mission in Ghana of an Italian head of government. During the visit, he also gave a speech before the Ghanaian parliament. Previous visits had been made by Deputy Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda and Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Mario Giro (December 2015) and Foreign Minister Emma Bonino (5-7 January 2014). The first visit of a President of the Italian Republic to Ghana, made by Giorgio Napolitano between 8 and 10 July 2007, is historical.

On July 2023 the President of Ghana Akufo-Addo met the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella and the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome. Previously, a high level visit took place in July 2015, when the then President John Dramani Mahama met President Mattarella and the then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and also participated in the national day of Ghana in Expo 2015 in Milan, within the “Cocoa and chocolate” cluster, and in a business forum on investment opportunities.

Italy and Ghana have been collaborating positively for years in UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in which they represent respectively the first and second national group by number of operatives.

As a founding member of the European Union, Italy promotes and supports EU policies, coordinates with other European countries and
contributes to the financing of all projects carried out by the European Union Delegation to Ghana. An Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has been in force since 2016 between Ghana and the European Union and its Member States. Such a development-oriented free trade agreement allows Ghanaian products to access the European market duty and quota free and provides for a progressive liberalization of the Ghanaian market for European products between 2020 and 2030.

On a bilateral level, the Italian government has provided concessional loans for the “Ghana Private Sector Development Facility” to purchase capital goods for at least 75% of Italian production. This has been instrumental in promoting the production capacity of small and medium enterprises and other projects made by non-governmental organizations. Between 2004 and 2016, 30 million euros were disbursed as credit and two as grants.

The relations between Italy and Ghana are also people-to-people relations. The Ghanaian community resident in Italy is made up of over 50,000 people, well integrated and mainly domiciled in the North (Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto). There are about a thousand Ghanaian students in Italian universities and many of them benefit from scholarships. The figure does not include a share of irregular immigrants and a significant number of Ghanaians who have obtained Italian citizenship and who no longer appear as such in official statistics. They were more than 4000 in total in the years 2017-19. Italy ranks fourth for the amount of remittances sent to Ghana ($ 151 million in 2017), which play a decisive role in supporting extended families. There are also about thirty Ghanaian footballers who play or have in Serie A (5 in the 2019-20 championship). About forty Ghanaians are currently active in the first three divisions. The Embassy collaborates in the organization of Calcio Trade Ball, an event that celebrates football as an important cultural bond in the relations between Italy and Ghana and has been organized four times (the latest in June 2022).

About 800 Italians live in Ghana: ENI employees, small and big entrepreneurs, many of whom are members of the IBAG (Italian Business Association in Ghana), international officials, volunteer workers and double citizens who returned to Ghana. Some are member of Italian families who have been in Ghana for almost a century and are protagonists in the development of the country.

Italian companies are looking to Ghana with growing interest in the opportunities it offers as a free market, a developing economy and a gateway to West Africa. In 2022, commercial exchange produced a volume of 827 million euros. In 2022, Italian exports to Ghana amounted to 225,592 million euros and machinery and equipment made up an important part of our exports to Ghana, for an amount of over 63 million. The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) – the  Agency for the promotion of Italian companies abroad and internationalization operates at the Embassy to facilitate business opportunities between Ghanaian and Italian companies.

Historically three projects carried out by Italian companies have a particular importance in the development of Ghana: the Akosombo dam, considered to be the largest and most ambitious project in the country, created by Impregilo in the early sixties, which led to the creation of Lake Volta, the largest artificial basin in the world by extension, and the generation of electricity for national needs; the Tema refinery, the only one in Ghana, built by Ghanaian Italian Petroleum (GHAIP) in 1963, then entirely owned by ENI; and the discovery, still by ENI, of the offshore oil and gas field, 60 kilometers off Cape Three Points (OCTP). Oil production started in 2017, gas production in 2018: this is an important contribution to access to energy, the reduction of emissions in energy production, economic growth and the improvement of the balance of payments. The project, worth about seven billion dollars, is also the single largest private investment in all of West Africa.

There are countless cooperation and assistance projects carried out by Italians in Ghana: some are ENI corporate social responsibility
projects, VIS is present with an important project to combat irregular migration and human trafficking. Many small NGOs have been active for years with initiatives to protect minors and disabled people, rehabilitate schools and hospitals, develop cultural heritage
and tourism, improve agriculture, provide professional training, health care and vaccinations.