Ghana has taken delivery of four patrol boats donated from China as the Asian nation moves to deliver some of the equipment pledged in terms of a $7.5 million grant availed in July for the provision of training and equipment to the West African nation.
The boats were handed over to Ghanaian Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul at the Tema naval base by Chinese ambassador to Ghana Sun Baohong on 13 September. Baohong hailed the donation as a further strengthening of the Ghana-China security co-operation agreement.
“The handover of the boats is another important achievement made in terms of our bilateral security cooperation agreement, which was strengthened when your (Ghanaian) Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, visited China in June this year,” Baohong said.
“The handing over of four patrol boats to Ghana is another important achievement of our bilateral security cooperation and I wish these boats would make contribution to elevating Ghana’s capacity in patrolling, guarding, detecting and anti-smuggling operations in coastal waters, inland rivers and lakes.”
She said China was committed to cooperating and planning together with Ghana in the areas of national defence, counter-terrorism, naval security as well as upgrading the equipment and operational capabilities of the immigration and customs services.
Nitiwul said primarily, the boats will be used for maritime security, disaster relief and search and rescue operations.
He said Ghana had to retool and modernise the navy in order to enhance its capabilities to deal with evolving maritime security threats and meet the demands of protecting new offshore petroleum industry infrastructure and facilities.
In terms of the $7.5 million grant facility agreement signed in July, 28 Ghanaian military officers will be sent to China to study subjects that include security and defence. In August 15 Ghanaian officers went to China for military training, on courses ranging from three months to one year.
The beneficiaries will be drawn from the navy, army and the air force. Separately, China has offered a further 100 Million Yuan to train and equip the Ghana Police Service.
Previously, Ghana has bought Chinese military hardware that includes two 46 metre patrol vessels ordered from Poly Technologies in 2008. The two were commissioned in 2011. The navy also operates several other fast attack craft and patrol boats that were ordered from South Korea, the United States and Germany over the past decade.
Nitiwul said during the acceptance of the four patrol boats that the procurement process had begun for additional fast patrol boats in the wake of illegal fishing, smuggling and drug trafficking. Ghana also intends to acquire offshore patrol vessels.