Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
The government opened two Consulates General in Port Louis, Mauritius and Guangzhou, China, in 2019, with the view to better provide timely consular services, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey revealed.
According to her, the move was to enhance the economic cooperation between Ghana and Mauritius on one hand and Ghana and the City of Guangzhou on the other.
“The ministry also facilitated the establishment of three new diplomatic missions in Ghana, namely the High Commissions of Suriname, Kenya and Rwanda, thus bringing the number of resident diplomatic missions in Ghana to 66 and 38 Honorary Consulates,” she said.
The minister made the disclosure in the budget performance report in respect to the ministry for the period of January to December 2019 submitted to Parliament.
Purchase and Renovation of Properties
She reported that the ministry, in its efforts to give a facelift and maintain the value of landed properties in Ghana’s missions abroad, renovated the Chancery and the residence of the Head of Chancery at the Ghana Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia.
The ministry also completed the construction of the Chancery of the Ghana Embassy in Bamako and also purchased the residencies for the Ghana Embassy in Oslo, Norway and the Ghana Embassy in Cotonou, Benin.
Shirley said Ghana’s economic diplomacy agenda, in the year under review, focused on the national objective of diversifying and increasing Ghana’s export base by actively seeking markets for Ghanaian products abroad and taking advantage of preferential arrangement and multilateral trade agreements.
“Economic Diplomacy also supports the diversification and expansion of the tourism industry for job creation and revenue generation by marketing Ghana abroad as a competitive tourist destination and attracting investment into the hospitality industry.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration organized its second Made-In-Ghana Bazar Extravaganza from July 26 to 28, 2019, which brought together over 231 Ghanaian small-to-medium businesses to exhibit their products,” she said.
The minister explained that the overarching objective of the Bazaar was to use the network of Ghana’s diplomatic missions abroad and diplomatic missions accredited to Ghana to facilitate the internationalization of Ghanaian products and services.
She noted that the expected outcome was for increased exports, job creation and to secure the needed foreign exchange for the economic growth of Ghana.
“To give effect to this expectation, the ministry devoted a special edition of its magazine, The Envoy, to the promotion of exhibitors of the maiden Bazaar Extravaganza in all its missions and diplomatic missions accredited to Ghana,” she added.
On passport administration, she disclosed that the ministry improved its service delivery of passports by reducing the turnaround time for processing a passport from a month to 12 days for express application and from three months to a month for standard/regular applications.
In addition, the ministry took some initiatives to improve service delivery at the passport office. Among these initiatives were the online passport application and downloadable Portable Document Format (PDF) Passport Application Form.
“Others included the extension of Passport Applications Centres (PACs) to eight regional capitals, establishment of the Premium Passport Application Centre, overhauling of passport processing equipment and extension of the validity of passports from five years to 10 years.”
“Additionally, action was initiated to introduce 48-page passport booklets to satisfy the needs of frequent travellers. The ministry has started discussions aimed at introducing chip-embedded passports to keep up with the pace of technological advancement and enhance the security of Ghanaian passports,” she added.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House