Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has charged Ghana’s ambassadors and high commissioners designate to aggressively pursue economic diplomacy to promote the country’s goods and services abroad.
Speaking at an orientation program for them, the minister encouraged the various missions to uphold the 4 strategic objectives of foreign diplomacy in line with achieving the Ghana beyond aid agenda.
She said “the realities of the times we live in require that we pursue Economic Diplomacy as a viable tool for transforming the Ghanaian economy by actively seeking markets for Ghanaian goods and services abroad, promoting trade and commercial relations, investments into the country.
“In this COVID era, Missions will be required to innovate in pursuit of economic diplomacy. Embarking on extensive market research on products and services is very crucial. Missions need to develop marketing plans indicating the focal areas, the objectives, the strategies employed and the outcome of their activities. Missions must adopt innovative and cost-effective strategies such as communication with wholesalers, press releases, publishing articles in business papers, granting interviews to reputable media houses etc. all in a bid to promote Ghanaian goods and services.”
The minister however noted challenges that could arise in the execution of their duties indicating that “there have been times when Ghanaian indigenous companies have left Missions in the lurch by failing to meet demand abroad, saddling Heads of Mission and their officers with the awkward and embarrassing responsibility of providing excuses in their defense. Whilst this is quite unfortunate, it should by no means deter you from promoting Ghanaian goods and services, and where possible, seeking joint ventures with companies of similar scale to boost knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices.”
In all, 35 appointees are undergoing the orientation to represent Ghana in various countries and missions.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey speaking on issues of funding urged the heads of the various missions to be prudent in the disbursement of their internally generated funds and ensure they always get clearance before using the funds. She said “As you may be aware, Missions generate income mainly through the provision of consular services and other statutory deductions.
“At the moment, Parliament has permitted a seventy-five percent (75%) retention of Internally Generated Funds (IGFs). On this note, it is important to stress that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is the Vote Controller of the ceded IGFs, which are held in Accounts in some Missions. Every Head of Mission is, therefore, required to seek prior authorisation before expending any IGF. Any unapproved use of IGF followed by application for retroactive approval should as much as possible be avoided since it will lead to serious sanctions on the offending Mission.”
She cautioned them to “desist from directly reporting Officers to the Presidency without recourse to me, the appointing Minister, and going as far as insisting that they be recalled without due process. Not only does this undermine my office, it places unbudgeted financial commitment on government and disrupts the already erratic family life of the diplomat, affecting mostly the children of these officers who through no fault of theirs often bear the brunt of moving from one place to the other.”
She indicated that “the Ministry has made efforts to improve our consular services such as Passport administration in our missions. Currently, the manual application process for passports have been completely phased out and the biometric passport application service has been extended to fourteen (14) Missions, namely, Berlin, London, New York, Washington, Pretoria, Abuja, Tokyo, Brussels, Rome, Ottawa, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Madrid, Seoul, New Delhi and Copenhagen. It is expected that the extension of these services would further increase access to passport services by Ghanaians in the diaspora.
“It also important that as Heads of Mission, you strengthen efforts to harness the renewed affinity of persons of African descent particularly in the Americas and Europe, many of whom have eagerly expressed interest in either investing or relocating to the motherland. It will be recalled that in November 2019, one hundred and twenty-six (126) African Americans and Afro Caribbeans were granted citizenship by the President.
“Government is also working hard to resolve all outstanding issues relating to Citizenship, Dual Citizenship and Right of Abode for all persons of African descent. As we make efforts to create a conducive environment to receive them, we will depend on you to actively engage them it your respective countries of accreditation.”