Colombia, Ghana negotiate air services

BY: Kate Baaba Hudson and Mary Mensah
Ambassador Claudia Turbay Quintero
Ambassador Claudia Turbay Quintero

The Ambassador of Colombia to Ghana, Madam Claudia Turbay Quintero, has announced that the governments of Colombia and Ghana are negotiating an agreement on air services to serve as the framework within which the two countries can execute various projects.

Over the last four and a half years, she said the Consulate of Colombia had issued close to 1,500 visas in the West African sub-region, and a third of them are from Ghana.

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She said Colombia was interested in more Ghanaians travelling to Colombia and having more Colombians come to Ghana.

“In recent times, Colombia has distinguished itself as one of the best tourism destinations in the world and is advancing in ways to entrench Colombia as a world class conference and sightseeing destination,” she added.

The ambassador, who made the announcement in her address at a reception in Accra to mark Colombia’s 208th independence anniversary, said “another crucial step in our relations with Ghana is the objective of promoting connectivity.”


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She said: “We are not only celebrating our anniversary, but the excellent balance that our country produces in all spheres of national life and in international relations with our friends and brothers.”

Ambassador Quintero said she was particularly pleased to share the diplomatic experience with Ghana, which had allowed the two countries to recognise each other and to share experience of our common identity.

The ambassador noted that Colombia had a population of 50 million inhabitants of which almost 10 per cent is of African descent.

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Bilateral relations

The ambassador emphasised that they had conducted bilateral consultations at both the political and technical levels and have identified issues of mutual interest in science and medicine, education, culture and in the learning of Spanish by public servants, as well as, the Spanish

Language courses offered in Colombia for professionals in the tourism sector and young students.

She announced projects in youth empowerment, such as value addition to agricultural products in coffee and cocoa, tropical crops and sports, especially at their high-performance centre where they have trained some of Ghana’s Olympic athletes in cultural activities, music, food, and dance.

Madam Quintero said they have also conducted many activities for young people through programmes such as the learning routes of entrepreneurship, the Junior Ambassadors Programme and Youth Exchange Programmes and also participated in multiple events of youth and women empowerment and were also close to the traditional population of Ghana, whom they considered to be key to the identity of this nation.

She said they had also undertaken social intervention projects in vulnerable communities with solar power light systems known as the ‘Litre of light’ project.

“We have Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in these areas and we are now working together with several entities to activate bilateral trade, although some Colombian firms already have market in oil and gas, energy, metal working, beddings and bath products and confectionaries,” she noted.

Security

On the subject of security, she said they had shared knowledge through seminars in both Colombia and Ghana.

“With the help of private Ghanaian businesses and the public sector in Ghana, we want to be able to communicate that in addition to the potential growth estimated at 8.3 per cent, Ghana has peace and security, which are very conducive for businesses.”

The ambassador said Colombia was also committed to the fight against drugs and drug trafficking, and also had shared maritime interdiction courses with countries in the West African sub-region.

Free movement

As the days go by, she noted that Colombians could now move freely throughout the world.

Currently, she said Colombia had the opening and admission of Colombia in 76 countries around the world, and 14 non-state territories that do not require visa for Colombians.

The ambassador was happy to announce that they could enter and stay for short periods by presenting only their passport.

She said Colombia’s integration with the international community, both bilaterally and multilaterally, was expressed in this case with their resolute presence in Africa.

Currently, she disclosed, Colombia had resident diplomatic missions in Ghana, Egypt, Algeria, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa, thus covering the whole continent with their diplomatic relations.

“From the mission in Ghana, we have opened two Honorary Consulates in Benin and Liberia respectively,” she noted and said the Honorary Consuls are Mr Roger Antoine Tohoundjo and Mr Houssein Cheatiou.

Economic front

Touching on economic development, she said they had made progress, saying Colombia had more than 20 free trade agreements, and this year marked the 7th anniversary of the creation of the Pacific Alliance, which has Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru as founding partners.

It is within this framework that the diplomatic representation of the Pacific Alliance in Ghana was established five years ago, she added.

When it comes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Colombia is one of the main promoters, she noted and said during the Rio +20 meeting, it was Colombia and another Latin-American country, Guatemala, which proposed the SDGs as an avenue by which world leaders of both developed and developing countries commit to continue working together in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to transform our world.

This year, she said Colombia became a full member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), where the most developed and advanced countries on the planet come together.

Performances

On the celebration itself, there were performances by two opera singers whom they had specially invited from Colombia for the special day, namely Monica Danilov, mezzo soprano, Hyalmar Mitrottti, bass, accompanied by Russian pianist Sergei Sichkov.

The illustrious composer and Emeritus Professor J. H. Nketia was celebrated with the interpretation of two of his compositions by their vocalists.

The ambassador expressed appreciation to Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the government for their willingness to work with them.

Present at the function was the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, who led the government delegation.

Also present were some ministers and deputies, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the Latin - American Community, security agencies, the clergy and traditional leaders.