Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin and Deputy Secretary of State Joseph Wood led a trade delegation in Ghana from March 15th to 24th, 2015 to discuss economic development and opportunities for increased global partnerships between businesses in Arkansas and the Volta Region of Africa. The Volta Region has the resources for economic growth and success – land and labor – but it needs capital and work experience to foster its advancement and positioning in the marketplace.
While in Ghana, the trade delegation met with prominent government officials and business leaders. They discussed creating more “Sister Cities” relationships with Sherman Banks, president emeritus of Sister Cities International, to foster a global partnership between the Volta Region of Ghana and the Delta Region of Arkansas. Such collaboration would allow Arkansas businesses to utilize African land and labor while offering the capital and experience needed to grow Ghana’s economy.
“Arkansas and Ghana are uniquely positioned to advance international relationships within the Sister Cities,” Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin stated. “By utilizing regional partnerships, rather than just city based, we can develop economic partnerships that not only grow jobs here in Arkansas, but also help alleviate poverty in Western Africa.”
The Volta Region presents a number of opportunities to create mutually beneficial partnerships with Arkansas’ Delta Region. Ghana has large amounts of land, is a major pork exporter, and the region currently produces many agricultural products including coca, pineapple, and mangoes; there is also a poultry feed company with the capacity and expertise to complement the Arkansas poultry industry.
If Arkansas and Ghana businesses were to create partnerships, it could be profitable – financially and qualitatively – for both parties. In addition to the possible business partnerships in Ghana, there is an opportunity for Arkansas students to develop their skill sets as well. The University of Health and Allied Sciences of Ghana expressed interest in partnering with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) represented by Donald Simpson, chair of department of laboratory sciences. This would give UAMS students an opportunity to seek healthcare jobs abroad and help increase levels of healthcare in Ghana. Ho Polytechnic of Ghana is also looking to partner with Pulaski Technical College of Arkansas, broadening opportunities for both schools.
Denise Thomas, Director of Africa Trade for the World Trade Center Arkansas, upon her return stated, “Businesses in Ghana prove to be interested in having a presence in Arkansas, and should Arkansas businesses pursue this collaboration, they will find ample opportunities for the establishing a greater presence in the international trade market”.