Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Mr Shri Mobashar Jawed Akbar, India’s External Affairs Minister, have turned the sod for the construction of a Foreign Service Institute in Accra.
The four-storey project, which is being funded by the India Government, would provide practical training to all Foreign Service Officers as well as officials from other Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
The building, when completed, would have lecture rooms, auditorium, library, language laboratory, offices, hostel, infirmary, gym and catering facilities.
The ceremony was attended by Mr Ambrose Dery, Interior Minister; Mr Dominic Nitiwul, Defence Minister; Ms Freda Prempeh, a Deputy Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Mike Oquaye Jr, Ghana’s High Commissioner to India.
The rest are Mr Jeeva Kakaravada Sagar, India’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Alhaji Mohammed Adjei-Sowah, the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, and the two Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration: Mr Mohammed Habib Tijani and Mr Charles Wiredu.
Madam Botchwey said the project represented one of the cardinal hallmarks of the thriving relations between Ghana and India.
She expressed gratitude to the Government and people of India for providing the financial support for the project.
“It is our firm expectation that the outcome of this endeavour will result in a world class facility with value for money,” she said.
Madam Botchwey said on September 22, 2008, the Government of India, acting through the EXIM Bank, extended to Ghana a credit Facility of five million dollars for the construction of a Foreign Service Institution in Accra.
She said subsequently, a sod-cutting ceremony was performed on Monday, 10th November, 2008 by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mr Akwasi Osei Adjei.
“Coincidently, he was also assisted by a visiting former Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Anand Sharma, on this same grounds for the conversion of the erstwhile Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD’s uncompleted three-storey office structure into a Foreign Service Institute,” she said.
Madam Botchwey said the initiative stalled after that initial ceremony because the project had not yet been awarded on contract.
“Fast forward eight plus years later, in July 2015, the idea for the construction of the Foreign Service Institute was rejuvenated.
“It was on that date that a contract valued at $ 4,789,682 was signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Seftech India Limited for the construction of the Foreign Service Institute,” she said.
She said the contractor moved to site on 1st November, 2016 and as at February, 2017, however, very little progress had been made on the project.
Madam Botchwey said following her assumption of office, she realised that the project had been unduly delayed and could suffer the same fate as some major projects in the country, if some drastic measures were not taken to remedy the situation.
She said a project committee had been set-up under the chairmanship of Mr Tijani recommended the then existing uncompleted structure which was originally meant for the office accommodation for the former Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD was not suitable to be converted into a training institute.
On the basis of these shortfalls and to provide a modern, more suitable and multi-purpose structure, the Ministry decided that the entire existing structure should be demolished to pave way for the redesigned and customised Plan to be built from scratch.
“We are, therefore, not performing this ceremony here today just for the sake of it, but to signal the birth of a new project redesigned to fit the purpose for which it is intended,” Madam Botchwey said.
Mr Akbar urged the construction company working on the project to ensure that the project was completed on schedule.
He hailed the 60 years of diplomacy, deep friendship and corporation between Ghana and India.
“We as Indians believe that knowledge is the only thing that grows only when it is shared. Knowledge is something that grows only when it is shared. And this Institution is one of sharing knowledge between equals, between friends. I think there can be no better objective to this institution, than this,” he said.
Mr Ranjeet Chaturvedi, the Director of Seftech India PVT Ltd, said they were hopeful that they would complete the project within 11 months, ahead of the one year deadline.