President Akufo-Addo has commissioned the ultra-modern Foreign Service Training Institute (FSTI) building to support the training of Ghanaian diplomats as well as diplomats from other countries.
The completion of Ghana’s Foreign Service Training Institute building, the President emphasised, marks an important milestone in the country’s effort to institutionalise a strong foundation for the country’s diplomatic service.
“The Akufo-Addo’s government’s commitment, to fostering diplomacy, cultivating international relations, and equipping our diplomats with the necessary skills, navigate the complexities of the ever-changing global landscape, is to be enhanced…,”he stated.
At the commissioning of the FSTI building in Accra on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo said the establishment of Ghana’s own Foreign Service Training Institute for Ghanaian diplomats “was a fundamental feature of my tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2003 and 2007.”
A three storey-building comprises five lecture rooms, a waiting room, a VIP waiting room, cafeteria, kitchen, library, a multi-purpose lecture hall, a language lab, a computer lab, CCTV/surveillance office, a staff office, Director’s office, Deputy Director’s office, a seminar hall, a 100-seater auditorium and a secretariat.
The $6, 584,762.95 FSTI building, an initiation of President Akufo-Addo when he was Foreign Minister in former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s Government, is the conversion of the defunct Ministry of Regional Integration and NEPAD uncompleted office building.
President Akufo-Addo said following a rationalisation exercise by the then Government, some ministries were reorganised in 2006. The Ministry of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD was merged with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, resulting in the change of name to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFA&RI).
The Ministry’s diplomatic staff at that time, the President explained, travelled abroad for professional diplomatic training, aside the academic training at the University of Ghana, Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana to position itself to provide similar training facilities at home to receive diplomats from other countries as it was done abroad, for the benefit of Ghanaians and other diplomats.
He said considering Ghana’s diplomatic resource base at the time, the situation needed drastic expansion as the country envisaged herself as the gateway to Africa.
“I had to take the necessary steps to established such and Institute,” he indicated.
The MFA&RI under the directive of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, now President, Akufo-Addo, began the process to convert the facility into a Foreign Service Training Institute.
According to President Akufo-Addo, then Deputy Minister and now Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey was asked to visit India and study the Indian’s Foreign Service Training Institute which was one of the best in the world to be replicated here in Ghana.
The decision, according to the President, necessitated the demolition of the old structure of the defunct NEPAD uncompleted office which was deemed inadequate in size and design for a FSI.
The Institute on 27th July, 2015, signed a contract of $4, 789, 682 with Setech India PVT Limited to undertake the construction of the FSTI. The Government of India, through the Exim Bank of India offered a loan facility of $5 million towards the construction of the building..
On 16th August, 2017, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey together with Minister of State of External Affairs of India, Mobashar Akbar officially laid the foundation stone for the commencement for the construction of the FSTI building.
Under a review of the project in May 2018, the $5 million was inadequate to cover mechanical, electrical and plumbing aspect of the project, hence an additional financing source of $1, 584, 762.95.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaian diplomats would not only be exposed to new ideas when they have the privilege to travel abroad, but also benefit from the FSTI’s training in the country, where formal distinguished diplomats would have the right environment to share their knowledge, expertise and experience.
Some former distinguished Ghanaian diplomats, the President mentioned, such as the late Ambassador James Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey Orleans, the late Ambassador Ramses Cleland Snr, and the late Ambassador E. N Debrah, who recently passed on “would have been at their best in transferring their considerable talents, experiences and deep knowledge in diplomacy to the current generation of diplomats.”
President Akufo-Addo, specifically mentioned these respectable and great men of memory, to bring home their extra contributions to the development of Ghana’s diplomacy.
However, the President was not oblivious of the many great talents that Ghana continue to have, such as, Amb. Victor Gbeho, Amb. Annan Kaitoe, Amb. Agnes Aggrey Orleans, and Amb. D.K Osei, amongst others, who equally offered their best to the Foreign Ministry.
President Akufo-Addo said these great and experienced diplomats undoubtedly, should be invited to impart their rich experience “to our diplomats.”
“I’m a firm believer that the transformation of this Institute could initiate in our country, for providing our people with top quality training and development, to welcoming international students and scholars from other parts of the world to Ghana, through this Institute,” he stated.
Ghana’s aim, President Akufo-Addo explained, is to foster mutual understanding and promote global cooperation, adding: “the Institute should prioritise actively, and support initiatives, that promotes cultural exchanges.”
He said Ghana will continue to count on their diplomats to support countries in the West African region who have recently overthrown constitutional rule, to return to democratic governance, which without doubt, would reap more sustainable growth for the betterment of their peoples.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayokor Botchwey said the completion and Commissioned FSTI marks a crucial step forward in Ghana’s journey towards excellence in diplomacy and international relations.
She extended her appreciation to President Akufo-Addo for initiating and completing the FSTI building project, and to those who have contributed and helped in diverse way to make the vision a reality.