Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ayikoi Otoo ends term on a High note
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Nii Ayikoi Otoo is expected to end his term next week. The former Attorney General and Minister of Justice who was appointed in 2017 by President Akufo Addo appears to have chalked a number of successes since assuming his role four years ago.Paakwesiasare.biz caught up with the former National Secretary of the Ghana Bar Association to find out what major impacts he has made in his time
PK-So how will you describe Canada?
AO: Let me state by way of general observation that Canada has a very good education system, great infrastructure, and human capital. It’s a relatively peaceful country. Their engagement with Africa is mainly into Extractive Industries, especially Goldmining. So my aim, with the mandate of economic diplomacy was to change the narrative and get them into other sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, infrastructural development,agro-processing, technical and vocational training. They like government to government and that’s an aid in the area of capacity building. This is the background within which I operated.
PK: Can you run us through your major Achievements over the last three years?
AO: So we appointed Two (2) Honorary Consuls for cities of Edmonton and Calgary separately with the one in Calgary having concurrent accreditation for the Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
This is a huge relief for Ghanaians and other travelers wishing to visit Ghana who hitherto had to send their Applications to Ottawa. Now consular services can be extended to them within their provinces and cities.
We also appointed a new Honorary Consul to replace the one who retired in British Columbia
PK: I know you have also done quite a bit of work in the area of Trade and Investment. Can you share with us?
AO: Yes, we successfully organized Trade Missions to Canada. Two of which were addressed by the President and the other by the Vice-President, Dr. Bawumia. It opened up discussions for Canadian Pension Funds to be sent eventually to Ghana through the Bank of Montreal (BMO). Covid scuttled the move but could happen.
Again in the area of Export Promotion, I brought Kasapreko Alomo Bitters onto the Canadian Markets but high tariffs discouraged further importation. I also facilitated the signing of MOU between Carleton University and the University of Ghana as well as the signing of MOU between Kenyano College and Seaside International School. A number of MMDCEs have been brought here for capacity building in the area of local government administration to Toronto and the City of Ottawa.
AO: We have also facilitated and led a business delegation from the Ministry of Agric in the province of Alberta to Ghana. We also coordinated the Evacuation of Ghanaians stranded in Canada and a group of Ghanaian Canadians from Ghana to Canada
PK: I know you’ve also done some work in retooling some veterinary labs in Ghana?
AO: Yes during my tenure Canada retooled three (3) Veterinary Labs and recalibrated them for Covid-19 Testing in Ghana. These are Accra Takoradi and Pong-Tamale Veterinary Labs. Those Labs played significant roles in the fight against Covid in Ghana.
•Coordinated the acquisition of a new spacious Chancery for the Consulate-General in Toronto;
•During my tenure, Ghana for Military and Zambia for Police, was selected to partner with Canada for its Elsie Initiative Program. That Initiative is still in the works and will be coming up often for meetings.
PK: I see you have also done some work on the look and feel of the Chancery
AO: That’s true. We have begun processes to fence the Chancery
I got financial clearance to build a metal fence wall for the Chancery during the winter after a long wait for approval by the City Authorities. The workmen decided to start the work during the spring. Unfortunately, Covid-19 struck and the project was put on hold. Because it is already approved, the work can resume at the appropriate time.
AO: When I arrived I observed that the outside of the Chancery was very undulating and the paint didn’t cover the walls evenly. I sought approval and got the surfaces properly treated and smoothened after which it was painted. The entire edifice now looks attractive.
Two (2) new vehicles were acquired for the Mission.
AO: The Chancery in Ottawa had no Letterbox where Mails could safely be dropped when the offices are closed. During the Covid-19 period, it became a pressing issue as we maintained only a skeletal staff. Fortunately, we now have a Letterbox installed, which is serving a useful purpose.
•Instrument for Africa
AO: I collaborated with one Todd Snelgrove under the above banner and he presented musical instruments to several Secondary schools in Accra free of charge. He will embark on another in October
AO: I have visited and engaged Ghanaians found everywhere in Canada except New Foundland and New Brunswick due to Covid.
WhatsApp Platform for Community Leaders
AO: To allow for information flow I facilitated the setting up of a WhatsApp platform for all Ghanaian Community leaders. I share information with them which gets down faster.
PK: What partnership do you have with the Commonwealth of Learning?
AO: So this organization is based in Vancouver and assists Commonwealth countries in various spheres of education, business, modern farming technics, technical and vocational training, etc. I have ensured Ghana regularly pays her contribution. The organization is seriously organizing programs in Ghana It has undertaken a fairly successful skilling and reskilling project in Ghana, covering thousands of young people.
PK: I also know you’ve been interacting a lot with most of the Ghanaian Students here on Government Scholarships
AO: That’s right. Because of my availability to the public Students on Government scholarships, they are able to reach me and complain when their remittances delay and I make the necessary contacts to get the money come in. This term I struck a deal with Scholarships Secretariat for the Mission to use its resources to pay fees and stipends upfront to avoid students being turned away from classes.
PK: What have you done during this period of COVID?
AO: The Mission led by me contributed about Can $20,000 into the Covid Relief Fund in Ghana.
PK: What have you done to improve visa acquisition and passports?
AO: As part of efforts to go Online with the issuance of Visas and Passports, we have acquired biometric capturing machines and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs we shall start fully online consular services by January.
PK: Tell us more about the Global Petroleum Show (GPS)
AO: This is an international conference organized annually in Calgary. I coordinated leaders in the Energy sector in Ghana to attend. Covid prevented this year’s conference from happening. It gives Ghana the opportunity to showcase what we have in the Ghanaian Energy sector and to network.
PK: What will you want to be remembered for?
AO: On assuming office I adopted an open-door policy and personally answered phone calls and emails on our official website and that is one thing that endured me to many Ghanaians
PK: So what’s next for Mr. Ayikoi Otoo?
AO: Well I’m leaving as Dean of the West Africa Group. But I remain a politician and I’m going back to help my party renew its mandate. It is at the pleasure of the President so wherever he deems it fit for me to serve again I am willing.
PK: Thank you, sir.
AO: Thank you too.