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23.02.2005 Diaspora (USA)

Ghana's Ambassador to the US meets Ghanaians in Chicago

By Ebenezar Antwi-Nsiah/GHP
Ghana's Ambassador to the US meets Ghanaians in Chicago

...He appeals to Ghanaians to apply for dual citizenship.. Ghana's Ambassador to the Us, His Excellency Fritz Kwabena Poku met with a cross section of the Ghanaian and African American Communities in Chicago on Tuesday February 22, 2005 at the Northwestern University's Center for Inner Studies.

Although the turnout was not what was expected for various reasons the attendees were very happy and excited about what the Ambassador told them.

In his welcome statement, the Vice-President of the Ghana National Council, Mr. Ebenezer Antwi-Nsiah, who was also moderator, apologized for the low turnout and informed the Ambassador that the Ghana National Council has invited an Ambassador to every event but none honored the invitation and that it was unfortunate that his visit was impromptu.

Mr. Poku assured Ghanaians that they are very important to the Government because their remittances form the third most important source of revenue that comes to Ghana. He informed Ghanaians that the Government does not only appreciate their money but also their ideas. He assured them that the Government would continue to solicit their input and help in the development of the nation. It is because of the importance given to the Ghanaians in Chicago that he came with two of members of his office. The Ambassador was accompanied by Mr. Joseph Akron, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs and Mr. Johnson Adasi, Minister Counselor for Trade and Investment. It is this importance the Government attaches to the Investment from Ghanaians abroad that the Government has established the Ghana Investment Promotion Center.

The Ambassador informed the attendees that the Dual Citizenship bill had been passed by Parliament and that it is finally legal. He appealed to Ghanaians to apply. Mr. Akron assured Ghanaians that although the forms are not downloadable they would be soon.

Mr. Poku also informed Ghanaians of plans in the works to get Ghanaians in the Diaspora to vote. He informed them that a bill that was sent to Parliament was not passed and assured the attendees that the bill to get Ghanaians abroad to vote would be passed by the year 2008.

The Ambassador appealed to the Ghana National Council of Metropolitan Chicago not to define itself by ethnicity. He observed that currently the affiliates that form the council are various cultural associations. He wanted that to change to include a representation of all Ghanaians. He observed that information does not seem to be filtering too well from the council to the Ghanaian population in Chicago.

Mr. Fritz Poku informed the attendees of the appointment of an Honorary Consul for the Chicago area and that it would be a voluntary position. Mr. Akron informed the attendees that names had been submitted to the embassy in Washington and that there is a vetting process going on before the names are sent to Ghana for the final decision.

In answer to a question the Ambassador stated that the best the Government can do is appeal to the patriotism of those students who have to pay back loans to the Government of Ghana but leave the country and never do. The same applies to those who are sponsored by the Government to study outside the country and never return. He informed the attendees of a resolution by the World Health Organization (WHO) to require the developed nations to confront the problem.

The Ambassador informed the Community members that his meeting with the Mayor of the City of Chicago went well and informed them of an agreement between the City of Chicago and the Government of Ghana where used waste management trucks are sent to Ghana by the City.

There was also good news from the Ambassador on the state of the Ghanaian Airline Industry. He informed the attendees of the establishment of Ghana International Airlines to replace the defunct Ghana Airways. He however said the Government is trying to figure out how to solve the $160million debt from the Ghana Airways debacle. He promised that this time the Airlines would have sound economic and equity management.

In answer to a question by the Publicity Secretary of the Ghana National Council, Hajia Mariam Issaka, Mr. Akron informed the attendees that the reason Ghanaians have to pay for visa forms is that the forms are printed by the Government and serialized which makes them expensive but there are plans in the works to eliminate the fees and incorporate them in the processing fees.

Mr. Fritz Poku advised the attendees to visit the mission's web site and offer suggestions.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Ebenezer Antwi-Nsiah thanked the Ambassador on behalf of the Ghana National Council and the Ghanaian and African American Communities for taking time off his busy schedule to meet them. He however assured the Ambassador that he would be held to his promise that he would visit Chicago often.

The president of the Ghana National Council's address for the occasion was presented to the Ambassador due to time constraints.

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