Dear Ghanaian Sisters and Brothers in France,

Happy New Year! I wish to inform you that my tour of duty as Ambassador of Ghana to France and Portugal and Permanent Delegate of Ghana to UNESCO, La Francophonie and the OECD Development Centre has come to an end. Unfortunately, due to my constrained and heavy schedule, I am unable to see you to say goodbye before I leave. During my time in Paris, I have had the privilege to meet many of you at some of the activities organised by our Mission. I hope to return to visit France someday and to meet more of you. To those who sent me kind messages, gifts and cards during my stay in Paris I would like to once again say thank you! I wish to acknowledge the hard work, cooperation, warmth and loyalty of those of you with whom I was fortunate enough to work and interact with. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours!

During my duty tour in France, despite severe financial constraints we developed a world class Embassy of Ghana website for the Mission where there was previously nothing at all and introduced an online application system for visas. Internal and external communications at the Embassy have greatly improved with the public now having the opportunity to communicate directly with the Embassy through a dedicated email address. There are plans in motion to continue modernising our consular services and improve service delivery to the public.

Both National Days during my tenure have been filled with joy, camaraderie and exciting experiences with Ghanaian food fairs, made in Ghana products, a fashion show, the Winneba Youth Choir and lots of traditional and contemporary singing, drumming and dancing. This year Ghana will celebrate its 60th Independence Anniversary and the Mission has plans to continue the trend of a creative and fitting celebration for such an important landmark. There will also be an African Diaspora Homecoming Conference organised in Accra under the patronage of UNESCO to celebrate this landmark event. You may access the website for registration at Brussels Airlines is offering 20% off their fares to participants and I am delighted to inform you that following a series of discussions with Air France from the time I first arrived in Paris they have finally decided to commence direct flights to Accra this year. Their maiden flight will be on the 28th of February.

During my time in Paris the Mission organised four Presidential visits in the space of one year and the Ghanaian Community participated in events surrounding some of these visits. At UNESCO we raised money from the private sector for a project to teach girls computer coding in Ghana, we partnered in the TeachHer project in Addis Ababa where six Ghanaians participated in training and we made significant progress in working to add more sites in Ghana to the World Heritage List. We opened offices at UNESCO and successfully campaigned for Ghana to be a member of the Executive Board at UNESCO. Our Parliament also ratified the seven UNESCO Cultural Conventions last year. Ghana was admitted to membership of the OECD Development Centre a year after my arrival in Paris following productive discussions with the Centre. We held a reception for the James Barnor Photo Exhibition and brought his work to the attention of the Ghanaian government and people resulting in him receiving a National Award from His Excellency John Dramani Mahama last year.

We took a large delegation from France to Ghana in February last year and the French returned the favour with a visit to Ghana by Prime Minister Manuel Valls in October 2016 with a large government and business delegation from France. He promised formalised exchanges between educational institutions in France and Ghana and the opening of a Business France office to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries. It was my joy and passion to serve my country and returning home gives me an even greater opportunity to continue to do so. I hope that you will also continue to play your role as Ambassadors for Ghana in France.

 Thank You and May God Bless our Homeland Ghana!

Ambassador Johanna Odonkor Svanikier

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