A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Tuesday, June 13, in Tema, Ghana between the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) and Loudoun County in Virginia, United States of America, to begin what was referred to as a “sister city relationship.”
Phyllis Randall, Chair-At-Large of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, and Yohane Amarh Ashitey, Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) both signed the agreement as representatives of their County and City respectively.
Although the event marks a formal agreement that will promote economic, cultural and student exchange programs between the two regions, but in actual sense, “we are really signing an agreement to be family, that’s what we [are] doing here today. And I’m so proud, so grateful and so humbled to lead this delegation to sign this today,” said Chair Randall in her speech.
The supervisors of Loudoun County had previously made an official declaration that Loudoun will be adding new jurisdictions to its sister city partnerships this year, which Chair Randall confirmed at an event in mid-April 2023, explaining the possibility of an existential relationship between Tema and Loudoun. The option for Ghana was agreed on and the Board of Supervisors on February 21 voted to approve Tema as one of the county’s new sister cities along with Greater Noida in India and Canelones in Uruguay.
According to Mr. Ashitey who is also the Mayor of Tema, the steps taken to build the sister city relationship between the two cities began when Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and American investors met over a discussion related to Loudoun.
“The U.S have strongly favored Ghana’s economy and political policies. It has offered assistance to Ghana and consolidated its steps towards democratic governance. It therefore didn’t come to us a surprise when the president of the republic Nana Akuffo Addo at a meeting with investors from the county of Loudoun, U.S. recommended that Loudoun and Tema strike a perfect friendship that can unleash the prospect to transform the Ghanaian economy,” said the Mayor of Tema.
At that meeting, the President suggested that Loudoun and Tema have a perfect friendship that might open up opportunities to revolutionize the Ghanaian economy. In her speech, Chair Randall furthered this claim by quoting the President as having said to the group from Loudoun, “‘I want you in Tema,’ and he told us why.’”
Tema offers a prime location for investment for all interested investors since it serves as the industrial center of Ghana, as well as having the biggest seaport on the west coast of Africa that services landlocked nations like Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso and is home to more than 400 industrial facilities.
The city of Tema is the hub of the Ghana’s manufacturing, and export-import trade, and is home to the majority of the country’s strategic installations, including thermal power plants, oil refineries, and other facilities. Tema has the closest human settlement to the Centre of the World.
“I’m inclined to describe Tema as a heartbeat of the nation in terms of ready mobilization, manufacturing and export-import businesses. Tema affords great opportunities for investors… affordable housing, tourism development, fish processing and transport systems among others. These references are meant to emphasize that Tema provides an ideal investment destination for all prospective investors,” said the Mayor.
Despite considering other countries for the partnership, Chair Randall said they chose Tema because they were convinced it was the best location. She said that they took the relationship highly seriously. “Kingsley Obaji suggested Ghana, and we didn’t know much about Ghana so we looked into it, but we also looked into many other African countries, and after looking to other countries in Africa for an entire year, we came back to [realize] Ghana is the right place for us,” she said.
“The truth is, once we heard about the people in Tema we knew we wanted to be in Tema, in Accra and in Ghana. Because all we hear is ‘the people of Ghana are kind, the people of Ghana are welcoming, the people of Ghana are respectable, the people of Ghana will help you.’ We kept hearing that over and over again.”
In addition to being technologically advanced and dealing with agriculture, industries, wineries, and numerous job prospects, Chair Randall indicated that more than 65 percent of the world’s data flow pass through Loudoun County. The Chair emphasized that the two cities would be bridging their differences with the agreement and complement one another from there onwards.
“So today, we open the door of possibility to the world superpower filled with hope and a chance to shine brighter. A possibility of friendship that ignites our minds to prioritize inclusive social and economic development and investment opportunities. Today’s historical signing ceremony shall be a turning point in the annals of both Tema City and Loudoun County.
“…From today, a lot more is needed to be done to achieve a desired result for our mutual benefits,” said Mayor Ashitey.
Under the leadership of Chair Randall, the Loudoun County delegation also comprised the below:
- Vice Chair Saines
- Supervisor Glass
- Chief of Staff Mattew Rogers
- Chief of Staff Kent Erwin
- Thaddeus Randall
- Buddy Rizer
- Bob McCollar (in absentia)
- Beth Erickson
- Kingsley Obaji
- Oral Ofori (friend of the county)