Hon. Dr. Terrance Michael Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, with Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana's Foreign Minister
Hon. Dr. Terrance Michael Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, with Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana's Foreign Minister

Ghana, Caribbean nations forge closer ties, as Foreign Minister Ayorkor Botchwey attends Guyana summit 

Ghana's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has held a series of bilateral and multilateral talks with Caribbean leaders, as a special guest at the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Summit in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, where the organisation is headquartered.

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 Ms Botchwey held closed-door meetings with the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr Terrence Drew; the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Dickon Mitchell; the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda,  Gaston Browne, and the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit. 

The Foreign Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Amery Browne, for the Prime Minister, Keith Rowley.

CARICOM Council of Ministers

She also addressed the CARICOM Council of Ministers in camera, and attended a reception where she engaged with President Alfaan Ali of Guyana, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, Prime Minister Philip Davis of Bahamas and other political, diplomatic and business leaders from the region. 

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey with Dickon Mitchell, Grenada

Both Caribbean and Ghanaian officials said all sides were eager to build on the momentum generated from Ghana’s “Year of Return” initiative in 2019, and the subsequent “Beyond the Return” policy which had led to a significant increase in tourist arrivals from the African diaspora to Ghana. 

Year of Return

The “Year of Return” introduced by the Ghanaian government, commemorated 400 years since the first slaves were recorded to have arrived in the Americas. 

Together with its sequel, “Beyond the Return”, the policy seeks to encourage African descendants in the Americas to visit and invest in Ghana from where, historical records show, many of their ancestors originated from as slaves. 

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey with Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Guyana

“Those initiatives by President Akufo-Addo have really ignited interest in bringing the Caribbean countries and Ghana in particular, and Africa in general, closer together,” Ms Botchwey said, adding that “they present an important opportunity to enlarge the market size of Africa and its diaspora and grow our economies, as well as bring together our people who have been separated by history and the ocean.” 

She suggested that a direct air link from the Caribean and Ghana would boost travel and commerce significantly between the peoples of the two geographical regions. 

Additional meetings

Ms Botchwey held similar meetings with the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, Alva Baptiste, the Foreign Minister of Belize, Dr Francis Fonseca, and the Director-General of the Foreign Ministry of the Bahamas, Jerusa Ali. 

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey with Mia Mottley, Barbados

In a move to bridge the political and economic gap, the African Union has designated the Caribbean as the “sixth region” of Africa, in addition to the continent’s east, west, north, south and central geographic regions. 

Ms Botchwey, a lawyer, and former legislator in both the Ghanaian and West African (ECOWAS) parliaments, is Ghana’s candidate for the position of Commonwealth Secretary-General. 

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey with Gaston Browne, Antigua & Barbuda

The organisation’s leaders will choose a new secretary-general in October to replace Baroness Patricia Scotland, a British-Dominican, whose current and second term is non-renewable when it expires at the end of this year. 

The rotational leadership of the 56-member Commonwealth of 2.6 billion people, and an annual economic output of over US$13 trillion, is expected to come from Africa. 

Shirley Ayokor Botchwey with Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica

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