Ghanaian Defence Minister visits NATO: first new relationship under NATO’s 2030 Agenda?

8 September 2021

On 6 September 2021, Ghana’s Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul visited NATO Headquarters to discuss potential opportunities for cooperation between Ghana and NATO and to exchange views on current security challenges, according to a brief NATO statement.

At NATO’s Brussels Summit on 14 June 2021, as part of NATO’s 2030 agenda, the alliance agreed to seek new relationships with countries across the world, including in Africa.

In June-July 2020, NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) coordinated the delivery of a UK-funded field hospital to Accra in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 1994, NATO has been cooperating with seven nations across the Middle East and North Africa as part of its Mediterranean Dialogue: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Since 2005, the alliance has also been cooperating with the African Union (AU), of which Ghana is a member.

NATO's initial cooperation with the AU focused on operational, logistical and capacity-building support. For example, NATO provided air and sealift to AU forces, as well as planning support for the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia. NATO has also supported the build-up of the African Standby Force through exercises and training. For day-to-day activities, the alliance maintains a liaison office at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On the 4 November 2019, NATO and the AU signed a new cooperation agreement, laying the ground for closer practical and political cooperation between the two organisations. The 2019 agreement replaced an earlier 2014 NATO-AU cooperation agreement. Neither agreement has been made publicly available.

Since 2019, AU-NATO dialogue has focused on counter-terrorism cooperation, principally through the AU’s Centre for the Study and Research of Terrorism as part of NATO’s Action Plan to enhance the alliance’s role in the international community’s fight against terrorism. In 2018, the United States signed a controversial agreement with Ghana that expanded military cooperation between the two countries. The deal allowed US forces access to an airport runway in Accra in exchange for $20 million in equipment and the training of Ghanaian troops.