President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says Ghana will be in a strong position to reap maximum benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement if Ghanaians make conscious efforts to learn the French language.
He described Ghana as “an English-speaking island in a French sea,” with its western, eastern and northern borders, French speaking countries, and stressed the need for Ghanaians to learn the language to be able to communicate and trade effectively with the French speaking countries.
President Akufo-Addo said this at an interview on the Touch of France Show, a television programme hosted by the French Ambassador to Ghana, Anne Sophie Ave.
The AfCFTA, which came into force in January this year, is a platform to stimulate intra-continental trade. It has created the opportunity for all businesses in Africa to get easy access to the 1.3 billion market on the continent.
President Akufo-Addo enumerated the geopolitical and economic benefits if the Ghanaian’s population was “ambidextrous and polyglots,” indicating that the ability to speak international languages was an effective instrument for communication and trade.
Using himself as an example, the President said he made a deliberate choice in the early 1970s to live and work in France and experience French culture as a young Ghanaian educated in England, and added that the decision enabled him to accumulate assets which later helped him in his political career
As a young lawyer, President Akufo-Addo said he was employed by an established American law firm with a branch in Paris, France, and described his period at the company as “an extraordinary moment in his life.”
Major American companies like Ford, Lockheed, Bank of America, Citibank, among others, doing business in France and in Europe were clients of the law firm, he said, and indicated that he gained insights into how multi-national companies operated and the dynamics of international economic intercourse when he worked for the company as a lawyer
With a strong command over the French language, President Akufo-Addo said he was able to advise American Anglo-Saxon companies and American clients on French law, adding that, he made a lot of friends with lawyers and influential people from French West African countries.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “as Ghana’s export potential, capacity to export its products, especially value-added products increases and intensifies, Ghanaian companies will be looking to populate the sales, departments, the international sales departments, the export departments, with people who have the facility in the language”.
He stressed the need for Ghanaians to learn the French language to be able to communicate and trade effectively on the continent and reap the benefits of the opportunities under the AfCFTA.
BY YAW KYEI