A FLAG-RAISING ceremony has been held to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) with Ghana pledging its commitment to enhance economic cooperation with French-speaking economies in pursuit of sustainable development.
The ceremony, which is the second to be celebrated in Ghana since the country joined the organisation of 88 member states in 2006, was on the theme: “321 million French speakers billions of cultural contents.”
The OIF refers to the global community of French-speaking peoples comprising a network of private and public organisations promoting equal ties among countries where French people played a significant historical role culturally, militarily or politically.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, speaking after inspecting a parade of 33 soldiers drawn from the Ghana Navy and the Ghana Armed Forces Central Band said it was essential to be committed to the OIF agenda as the organisation had over the years played an important role in the promotion of peace, democracy, economic cooperation, among others.
She was accompanied by the Ambassador of Lebanon to Ghana, Maher Kheir, who doubles as the President of the group of Francophone ambassadors in the country.
Ms Botchwey paid tribute to the founding fathers and current leadership of the OIF, saying “as African it is with extreme pride that we pay tribute to the founding fathers of this all-important organisation, which was born on the March 20 1970. Exactly 53 years ago by four heads of state, three of whom were African and one Asian.”
The minister said Francophonie accounted for over 1.5 billion people, representing one-third of UN member countries, with Africa having the largest number of French speakers accounting for 55 per cent of the continental population and that Africa was a key to the future of La Francophonie.
She applauded the Secretary General of OIF, Louise Mushikiwabo, for her bold leadership and her flagship poverty alleviation initiative to assist women in distressed situations and the youth development programme aimed at involving the youth in governance issues as well as the Francophonie games.
She said since Ghana was admitted to the OIF in 2006 the various agreements and Memoranda of Understanding signed had afforded Ghana the opportunity to enjoy fruitful collaborations with the organisation and its member states.
Citing the linguistic pact signed in May 2018, the teacher mobility programme signed in November 2021 had, among others, led to Ghana hosting more than 20 French teachers drawn from various Francophone countries to improve the quality of teaching and learning of the French language in the country.
The Ambassador of Lebanon hoisted the OIF flag while Ms Botchwey hoisted the Ghana Flag.
Mr Kheir commended the government of Ghana for supporting the Francophone community in Ghana and pushing for progressive reforms aimed at making Ghana a multicultural destination.
He said the impact and importance of French cannot be overstated as currently over 321 million people spoke French worldwide.