Nana Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of Ghana’s main opposition party – the New Patriotic Party is confident that Ghana and Ivory Coast will not be at war over the ‘disputed’ maritime border between the two neighbouring countries.
The disputed border covers some parts of the Jubilee oil fields which is said to be the largest to be discovered in West Africa in recent times.
Despite delay in finding amicable solutions to the border dispute, the former Ghanaian Foreign Minister believes that the two “countries would not go to war over the issue”.
Akufo-Addo was speaking at a meeting organized by the Chatham House during his trip to the UK on the theme “Governance and Economic Trends in Africa: Lessons from Ghana”.
He explained that aside language, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are natural partners and they have the same historical and cultural roots.
“On the ground there are many indicators which reaffirm this cultural affinity. There is also a common purpose and vision as to where the two countries want to go,” Akufo-Addo said.
According to the NPP flag bearer, dialogue is the best approach in dealing with the matter.
“The best approach would be to engage in dialogue to resolve this border dispute sooner, rather than later, to give confidence to investors to develop more oil fields,” Akufo-Addo said according a transcript of the meeting obtained by ghanabusinessnews.com.
He indicated that the Ivorian government led by President Alassane Ouattara is “suspicious of the NDC” because they supported ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo during the country’s 2010 presidential elections.
The NPP leader said Ouattara could be “judged as one of the great African leaders, with a little luck – working with the NPP the two countries could bring great progress for ECOWAS.”
London-based news publication – the Financial Times (FT) in a report written by its Africa editor William Wallis in late December 2011 suggested that Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara is using the oil border dispute between his country and Ghana to punish President John Atta Mills for supporting ex-Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo when he refused to cede power after an election that international observers said he had lost.
The FT report said Ivory Coast has complicated matters for Ghana’s oil find by raising questions on the maritime boundary around the Jubilee field and that “relations between stakeholders have oscillated from the suspicious to the acrimonious.”
According to the FT, the environment in the region has become more problematic. “Last April 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was ousted as president of Ivory Coast after a doomed attempt to manipulate election results. Ghana remained one of Mr Gbagbo’s few allies almost until the end; within weeks of the installation of Alassane Ouattara as his successor, Ivory Coast made territorial claims on offshore waters already licensed by Ghana.”
Citing unnamed Ghanaian officials, the FT said they first got wind of this when the Ivorian government wrote to oil companies requesting that they cease activities in waters long considered to be on Ghana’s side.
“They acknowledge relations with the new administration in Ivory Coast are tense and privately maintain the border claim is a strategy designed at least partially to punish President John Evans Atta Mills for backing the wrong side,” writes William Wallis.
Ivory Coast has also publicly challenged Ghana over title to the offshore acreage hosting some of the region’s most prolific oil and gas fields, reports the Upstream news publication.
But Ghana, through state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has dismissed the claims by Ivory Coast saying they have no basis for the claims.
By Ekow Quandzie