Ambassador Thomas Kwesi Quartey was elected as the Vice Chair of the African Union Commission on 30th January, 2017, at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ambassador Quartey’s diplomatic career with Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spans over three decades, and he has served in various capacities at the Ministry, and in Ghana’s Embassies in Cotonou, Cairo, Brussels, Havana, New York, and also Addis Ababa, where he was appointed as Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Ghana’s Permanent Representative to the African Union.
He was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration in 2012, and was subsequently appointed Executive Secretary to then President of Ghana, H.E. Mr. John Mahama, in 2015.
The election of the remarkable Ghanaian diplomat and lawyer to the position of Vice Chair of the AU Commission is indeed well-deserved, and promises the advantage of a wealth of experience to the Commission.
Hon. Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey is Ghana's 29TH Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
This followed her nomination by President Nana Akufo-Addo, her subsequent vetting and approval by the Appointments Committee of Parliament, and on Saturday, 28th January, 2017, her swearing in by the President.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Ghana Embassy in Addis Ababa, as the Foreign Minister-designate had travelled ahead of His Excellency the President to Ethiopia to make preparations for the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
Hon. Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey is also the Member of Parliament for Anyaa Sowutuom of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.
At a very colorful and vibrant ceremony, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was inaugurated as Ghana’s 5th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana on Saturday, 7th January, 2017.
It may be recalled that H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo won Presidential elections held on 7th December, 2016, defeating incumbent President John Dramani Mahama who had sought to win a second term in office.
More than 6,000 members of the public, dignitaries and Heads of States were in attendance, including Presidents from Nigeria, Kenya, Ehiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia, Togo and Benin. The President of Cote d’Ivoire, H.E. Mr. Alassane Ouatara was the Special Guest for the occasion.
Also present were former UN Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan; former President John Dramani Mahama, former President John Agyekum Kufuor, former President Jerry John Rawlings, and former Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur and their respective spouses.
Delivering his first speech as President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo- Addo stated that there were exciting times ahead for Ghana and that he would not let the Ghanaian People down. He commended former President Mahama for his show of statesmanship when he conceded defeat.
Earlier on, H.E. Mr. Mahamudu Bawumia was also sworn in as Ghana’s Vice President.
The inauguration was a feather in Ghana’s cup, as it demonstrated yet again the entrenchment of democracy and the rule of law in Ghana, and also projected the peace-loving nature of the People of Ghana.
"You Ghanaians make us proud" – President of Liberia, H.E. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson
On Friday, 6th January, 2017, the staff of the Ghana High Commission in Pretoria hosted a vibrant farewell dinner in honour of their bosses, Ambassador Kwesi Ahwoi and his Deputy, Mr. Francis Osei-Sarfo.
Present at the farewell dinner was the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Bene M’poko of the Democratic Republic of Congo, several Ambassadors, Chairpersons of Ghanaian Associations, Heads of Companies and Corporate bodies, and Friends of the High Commission.
Addressing the gathering, H.E. Kwesi Ahwoi explained that as is the practice in all democratic countries, the Republic of Ghana held Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 7th December 2016, which culminated in a change of government with effect from 7th January, 2017. It was therefore in good conscience and legal morality that himself and the Deputy High Commissioner would bow out now to give room to others to also be of service to Ghana.
H.E. Mr. Ahwoi noted that although the sun had set on the call to Ambassadorial duty, it was with a great sense of fulfillment that they celebrate the opportunity to have served their motherland, Ghana.
He touted the further strengthening of relations between Ghana and South Africa, as well as the six other accredited countries, during his tenure as High Commissioner, and cited Ghana's successful hosting of South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H.E. Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and her delegation, for the convening of the 4th Session of the Ghana-South Africa Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation. The session resulted in the signing of several Memoranda of Understanding in the areas of Science and Technology, Energy, Education, Legal Field, Agriculture, Trade and Investments, Standards, to mention a few, and also paved the way for the implementation of earlier agreements.
He noted that after the State Visit, facilitated and tele-guided by the Mission, of President John Dramani Mahama to Mauritius in October 2015, there had been speedy implementation of agreements and projects determined by the two countries, such as the grant of Visa Free status for citizens of both countries.
With regard to Seychelles, he mentioned that a Fisheries Collaboration Agreement in the Fisheries Sector had been concluded and would be signed in the course of the month.
Tourism promotion and collaborations had also been made, resulting in a visit to the Kingdom of Swaziland by the Ashanti King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, and also an extension of invitation to him by the Republic of Mauritius, which unfortunately could not be honoured due to unforeseen circumstances.
High Commissioner Kwesi Ahwoi’s efforts to create opportunity for more cohesion, unity and brotherliness among Ghanaians in South Africa and the countries of concurrent accreditation, especially Swaziland and Lesotho, culminated in the efficient re-organization and energizing of existing Ghanaian Associations, as well as establishment of eight (8) new Associations over the past year.
During High Commissioner Ahwoi’s time in office, a major focus had been the issuance of biometric passports by the Mission, which commenced in June 2016. As at December 2016, the Mission had issued 2,500 biometric passports to compatriots in some Provinces in South Africa. Mission, using the mobile pack had also issued passports to Ghanaians in the Kingdom of Swaziland, Botswana and Republic of Gabon.
He noted that their departure was not a full stop, but a comma - a pause, at best.....a transitional break, which would pave the way for service to Ghana in other capacities.
The farewell dinner, a fun-filled event with memories of the past two years, ended in a late night bash with good music that drew all present to the dance floor.
Once again, we wish H. E. Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, his spouse Mrs. Ewura-Abena Ahwoi and his Deputy, Mr. Francis Osei-Sarfo, Godspeed and the best wishes for the new year and thereafter.