…Guyana, Ghana abolish visa requirement
…emphasise need to ‘bridge ocean’ through air service pact
GUYANA and Ghana have signed an agreement to abolish the visa requirement for citizens desirous of travelling between the two countries.
The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, was signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings and her Ghanaian counterpart, Shirley Botchwey, on Tuesday, in the presence of President David Granger and Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during a bilateral meeting at State House. The MoU will also pave the way for increased cooperation, collaboration and trade.
Addressing journalists shortly after the signing of the MoU, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, explained that the agreement to abolish the visa requirement will pave the way for increased travel between the two nations.
“What it means is that persons who are holders of diplomatic, official and regular Guyanese passports can travel to Ghana and likewise, Ghanaians can come to Guyana without the requirement of a visa. In the initial stages, they will be entitled to at least 90 days [three months] without having to renew but after 90 days, then there will be a requirement for renewal based on the laws of the respective countries,” the Director General explained. He emphasized that this agreement intends to facilitate hassle-free travel between the two countries.
On the basis that most Afro-Guyanese identify with the Akan tribe, which is popular in Ghana, Harmon said the agreement also augers well for cultural exchanges. The Director General disclosed too, that President Granger and President Akufo-Addo also “spoke about bridging the ocean,” through the air service agreement.
Using the case of President Akufo-Addo and his delegation as an example, Harmon said it took them approximately 13 hours to travel from Accra, Ghana to Georgetown, Guyana, noting that the journey took them through Europe.
“So this is the benefit of being able to rearrange trade routes, rearrange air routes to allow for better facility, to allow for better travel time for our leaders and for people of this region,” Harmon posited.
In May, Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Egbert Field and the High Commissioner of Ghana, Professor Abena Pokua Adompim Busia verbally agreed to explore the possibility of creating sustainable air linkages when they met at GCAA’s Headquarters.
In November 2018, Guyana and Ghana signed an Air Services Agreement at the Third African Diaspora Meeting held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Under this Agreement, airlines operating from Guyana or Ghana will be able to fly to any destination within both countries as well as provide any number of services between both countries and beyond to any third country, with no restrictions on capacity, frequency, aircraft type and routing. Further, in December 2018, Guyana also signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement with Ghana for the exchange of knowledge and technical expertise in the area of civil aviation.
The Director General said the State visit by the Ghanaian President and the signing of the MoU are geared at cementing the 40-year-old relationship which exists between the two countries but was never formalised until now.
“This visit is cementing the relationship, which was developed between our two countries. The diplomatic relations started in 1979 between Guyana and Ghana, but because the legal framework for getting things done was never firmly established, I believe that we are now in a better position to move forward,” Harmon told the media.
President Granger was accompanied at the meeting by Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo; Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman; Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder; Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton; Director General, Mr. Joseph Harmon; Minister of State, Dawn Hastings- Williams; Minister of Education, Dr. Nicolette Henry and Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.
The Ghanaian President’s delegation comprised Shirley Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration; John Peter Amewu, Minister of Energy; Barbara Oteng Gyasi, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts; Abena Pokua Adompim Busia, High Commissioner of Ghana to Guyana; Napoleon Abdulai, Ambassador of Ghana to Cuba; Michael Ofori Atta, Director for Regional Integration, Presidency; Yoofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre; and Florence Akonor, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.