ACCRA // President Barack Obama met Ghana's democratically elected president today on a visit to Africa that will emphasise his message on the importance of good governance and accountability. It is Mr Obama's first visit to sub-Saharan Africa since he took office as the first African-American president of the United States. Mr Obama and Mr Mills shook hands as they met outside the presidential palace. The leaders then inspected a military honour guard.
Ghana was chosen because it symbolises an Africa different to the old images of war, misery and corruption. President John Atta Mills was elected in a peaceful, transparent vote last December that set an example for the continent. Economic reforms in the cocoa and gold producing country, set to begin pumping oil next year, also helped bring unprecedented investment and growth before the impact of the global financial crisis.
Along the streets of Accra, walls and utility poles were plastered with posters of side-by-side portraits of Mr Obama and Mr Mills accompanied by the word "change", the mantra of Obama's presidential election campaign. Thousands of people wearing Obama T-shirts thronged the streets, cheering as the president's motorcade swept past. Obama is a hero on the continent because of his roots as the son of a Kenyan immigrant.
"This is both a special and an important visit for him personally as president but also for our country to articulate a vision for Africa," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "He knows there's a lot of enthusiasm on the continent for his visit but also for our special partnership." * Reuters