‘Indians started retail shops in the Gold Coast, now Ghana, in 1891’

Accra, Jan 27 (IANS) India might have established diplomatic relations with the West African state of Ghana 60 years ago but what is also true that Indian immigrants to the Gold Coast — as the country was called prior to independence name — had set up retail outlets known as Sindhi Shops way back in in 1891, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has said.

Speaking at the inaugural of the month-long Festival of India in Ghana to mark six decades of their diplomatic engagement, Bawumia said: “Ghana and India had established a mutually beneficial partnership” since 1953 when India opened a Consulate General in Accra before independence in 1957. “But, we now know that Indians had arrived in Ghana long before that with the first immigrants known to have arrived in 1890.”

The festival is part of the activities that the Indian High Commission has lined up to mark the country’s 68th Republic Day.

An Accra-based journalist of Indian origin, Pedro Pankaj Pyne told IANS that “the Sindhi shops were set up by early industrious Indians. These metamorphosed to Bombay Bazaar, OK Bazaar and later Glamour Stores”.

Bawumia said “Indian has since then remained a true friend and continues to play a substantial role in Ghana’s development”, and mentioned several projects, including the Advanced Information Technology Institute (Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT) as one that had helped train over 1,900 persons, including 400 young people, from the West Africa sub-region.

Indian High Commissioner Birender Singh Yadav said: “India has been a steady and reliable partner in the journey of Ghana’s economic growth and development and would continue to be a friend and partner of Ghana in meeting its aspirations of growth and development.”

Stating that India is the fourth largest foreign direct investment partner in Ghana, Yardav pointed out that “Indian companies are loving forward to further increase their presence in the Ghanaian market and for using Ghana as a hub for the West African market”.

He said, as part of efforts to “facilitating friendlier and easier exchange of people’s movements”, India has included Ghana in the electronic travel authorisation (eTA) scheme which will enable Ghanaian nationals obtain online permission for short travel to India for tourism, exploratory business and medical consultation.

As part of the celebrations, there was a performance of “Samanvay” — an amalgamation of different Indian Classical and traditional dance forms — by the Lok Chhanda Cultural Unit led by the Maitreyee Pahari Group at the National Theatre here.

The group is also billed to perform at the National Cultural Centres in Ashanti region capital Kumasi and Western regional capital Takoradi.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at fkokutse@ians.in)

–IANS

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