The mission for the visit was to officially welcome the newly appointed ambassador to office and to discuss areas of collaboration between the embassy and the media by way of dissemination of information and bridging the gap between the embassy and the Ghanaian community.
Members of the Ghanaian Media fraternity in the United States on Wednesday February 23rd paid a courtesy visit to Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency (HE) Lt. General Joseph Henry Smith at the chancery in Washington DC.
In welcoming the media men Ambassador Smith reiterated his pride in the peace, stability and security in Ghana as a pace setter in the sub region. As much as he commended the media men for the work they are doing he also advised them to work with a professional decorum and verify their information before publication. He also emphasized the need to avoid smear attacks and misconstruction of statements made by public personalities, something which is staining the image and trust of the media.
The Ambassador charged the media men to put their commitment to Ghana as a country first and to educate the community as well. He said “We should look forward and examine ourselves, put the past behind us and stop the blame game. We all have a role to play. The future is bright for Ghana and requires all of us to come on board to help educate Ghanaians and help change the attitude of your colleagues in Ghana”.
HE Ambassador Smith continued saying that, putting Ghana first requires a commitment to security, service and sacrifice. He expressed his confidence in the future of Ghana by identifying some gains of the Government which is evident in the economic prospects of the county. According to him “Ghana is doing well economically since Ghana has met the requirement to receive compact 2 of the Millennium Challenge Account, about 85% of which would go into the energy sector”.
In late February of 2015 an agreement was struck between Ghana and the International Monetary Fund for a three-year deal worth around US$1 billion (645 million pounds) aimed at restoring fiscal stability in the Ghanaian economy noted the Ambassador who also mentioned the floating of Eurobonds by the Government of Ghana which had been oversubscribed.
Ambassador Smith announced that a Diaspora Affairs Bureau to serve as a communication platform between Ghanaians and the Government has been established at the embassy in Washington DC. This initiative will document the grievances of Ghanaians in the Diaspora on issues like high vehicle importation taxes, the economy and various issues affecting the Ghanaian Community in the Diaspora.
Solutions were being worked on to figure out was to expeditiously deal with challenges faced by the embassy according to HE Ambassador Smith, he explained that the inability for the consular session of the Ghana Embassy in Washington DC to deliver passports and visas in a timely fashion due to the frequent breakdown of the passport processing machines was one of such challenges.
We are doing everything within our power to clear all backlog applications and urge Ghanaians to be patient appealed the Ambassador. He said with the increased acceptability of biometric passports by most countries, plans are far advanced within the mission to begin issuing such passports.
Lt. General Smith emphasized that this is a temporal problem that will be fixed within 3 months to allow for processing of passports to resume in earnest. He said the embassy staff is ready to go the extra mile to clear the pile of applications within to avoid further inconveniences to applicants.
Touching on the infrastructural upgrade of the embassy, Ambassador Smith revealed that the entire embassy is under restructuring to meet the growing demands of the Ghanaian community, tourists and potential investors. He said the embassy has embarked on intensive education of the staff in all departments within the consular section and that within three months there would be massive transformation at the embassy.
Ambassador Smith further disclosed that his office is open to all and urged Ghanaians to feel free to call on him. He said regardless of anyone’s political affiliation, he is ready to work with all for the good of mother Ghana.
The media practitioners commended the information and public affairs section of the embassy headed by Jojo Bruce-Quansah on the changes his outfit has implemented since last year which include the opening of a library and the printing and distribution of a quarterly newsletter by the embassy. They pledged their commitment to collaborate effectively with the information and public affairs section of the embassy in bridging the gap between the embassy and the Ghanaian populace.
George Bright-Abu, editor of the Afrikan Post Newspaper, Joseph Sonny Vandepuye, editor of the New Ghanaian Newspaper and Sunlight Radio and Yaw Ansah of Highlife Media were among the group that paid the courtesy call on the Ambassador. The rest were Naa Amerley Tagoe of Sankoa Media, Gifty Bandoh, Rev. Dr. E.K. Nkansah of Hognet Radio, Kwame Boakye Danquah of Ghana Tourist Coach Radio, and Charles Nimo Ntiamoah Mensah popularly known as ‘Mr CNN’ of 3G Media.