Guyana, Ghana sign MoU on visa free travel, oil and gas support
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings and her Ghanaian counterpart, Shirley Botchwey, yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of President David Granger and Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for visa-free travel between the two states and a number of other areas.
According to a Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) release, the MoU signing which followed a bilateral meeting held at State House, Georgetown, will pave the way for increased cooperation, collaboration, trade and visa-free travel between the two countries.
In an invited comment, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, said the State visit by the Ghanaian President and the signing of the MoU are geared toward cementing the 40-year-old relationship which exists between the two countries.
“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,” he said.
In this regard, the Director General said that an agreement on the abolition of the visa requirement for citizens of Guyana and Ghana was signed and this will now pave the way for increased travel between the two nations. According to Harmon, in view of the fact that most Afro-Guyanese identify with the Akan, a popular tribe in Ghana, the agreement also augurs well for cultural exchanges.
“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,” he noted.
Further, Harmon disclosed that the African country is looking to expand its trade and business with Guyana, particularly in the areas of rum, wood/timber and support for oil and gas services. An agreement to this effect was also signed.
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“The important thing is that we are looking at expanding our relationship in business. The Ghanaians have an interest in our rum industry and so this afternoon the President will be visiting Banks DIH and Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). They [have] an interest also in our wood…so some of the better-known species of wood can find its way into the market in Ghana. There is an exchange that has been promised for the oil and gas sector. The President of Ghana made a very clear offer that they are prepared to assist Guyana with technical cooperation with the necessary personnel and so on to assist in the development of the oil and gas sector. This was very important to us because what they did is offer to pay their salaries and airfare and we will just have to find accommodation…We are talking capacity building,” he said.
More importantly to Guyana, however, was the support shown by the Ghanaian President in the ongoing Guyana/Venezuela border controversy. Director General Harmon said that this is heartening and welcomed by Guyana, the MoTP release added.
“The President came out very firmly in support of us on the Venezuelan issue and has committed that in the Organisation of African Unity and in any other forum where Ghana is represented, to push Guyana’s case for a resolution of this matter at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to ensure that Guyana gets what it rightfully deserves,” Harmon asserted.
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, 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; Yoofi Grant, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Florence Akonor, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.