Story by Nana Sifa Twum, London

The Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo has been elected as a board member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) at the just ended Commonwealth Local Government Conference in Cardiff in the United Kingdom.

He joins three other African local government ministers from Botswana and Uganda on the Board of 17 members whose responsibilities among other things are to provide strategic guidance on exchanging good local government practices and policies among member countries.

The Board also ensures comprehensive local government capacity building within the Commonwealth fraternity as well as developing regional programmes in association with national governments by providing advice in relations to diversifying the Commonwealth Local Government Group donor base.

Other responsibilities include ensuring CLGF works with its members and other partners to identify needs of local communities as well as designing, managing and monitoring national, regional and pan-Commonwealth capacity-building programmes.

The election was keenly contested by other African ministers and mayors at the Conference and it brings to three the number of Ghanaian officials who have been elected to take Commonwealth positions within one year.

In May last year, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Mahammad Mumuni was elected as the Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) for a two-year term while in August the same year, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, was also elected as the Chairperson for the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Foundation at the Foundation’s meeting in London.

Mr Ampofo is expected to bring to bear his local governance and rural development skills gained through his stewardship as a District Chief Executive, Member of Parliament, Deputy Regional Minister, Regional Minister as well as his role in party politics activities in his new role at the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.

In an exclusive interview after his elections, Mr. Ampofo expressed delight at his election and said Ghana has assumed a challenging leadership role in the Commonwealth and “this must be executed against the background of the trust reposed in Ghana by the international community.”

He was particularly enthused about plans laid down at the end of the Conference to identify and strengthen rural economic potentials and also enhance them to the benefit of the rural communities.

Mr. Ofosu Ampofo noted that Ghana has great local government and rural development lessons for the Commonwealth and indeed the rest of the world.

He said he would help to ensure that programmes of the Board are designed to respond to members’ needs as well as to strengthen local government structures. Building strong capacity and skills base to improve services and also helping to tackle poverty to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs) will be part of his plans.

He said Ghana’s decentralisation system has been hailed around the globe and other countries within and outside the Commonwealth are ready to learn and adopt.

The Minister has since returned home.