Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, on Tuesday, 8 November 2022, officially inaugurated the Premium Application Center (PAC) in London. This is a premium service to complement the existing consular services provided by the mission.
Prior to the establishment of PAC, the ministry, led by Hon. Kwaku Ampratwum-Sarpong, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, in charge of passports and visas, and the Ghana High Commission UK carried out sensitization tours and public engagements with the Ghanaian community in the UK, where he disclosed the plans for rolling out the improved consular services to ease the pressure and challenges that many applicants faced.
During the interactions in the UK on the 10th and 11th of August 2022, Hon. Ampratwum-Sarpong noted that the Ghanaian government had recognised the need for improvement in its services at the missions abroad, and as such, the ministry had made the decision to extend and deliver front-end premium services through a public-private partnership arrangement with Access Citizens Services Ghana, an intermediary specialist service provider for processing visas and passports applications.
The Premium Application Center, London is the first of its kind in the diaspora for Ghana’s missions and is the culmination of efforts within the West African country to deliver premium passport and visa application services to citizens following a successful four years pilot in Ghana.
As part of the long-term objectives of the Ghanaian government to improve consular services both at home and abroad, the opening of this brand-new Premium Application Center (PAC) is to give citizens of Ghana and visitors to Ghana, in the United Kingdom, convenient access to an efficient and comprehensive process for faster passport and visa application and acquisition all in one place.
Speaking at the grand opening, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey acknowledged the importance of the centre and reiterated the resolve of the ministry to further improve its service delivery.
Hon. Ayorkor Botchwey said, “…this milestone event marks another achievement in the determination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to provide quality service delivery at home and its missions abroad. The opening of this PAC, the first to have been established, is a testimony to the progress we have made in recent years. Every applicant can expect expedited frontline consular services for passport, visa, and travel certificate applications”.
The Minister emphasised that the final determination of applications will be done by the consular section of the Ghana High Commission – so this is for frontline services only. “I, therefore, call on Ghanaians and the public to take advantage of this PAC. As the Ministry opens such facilities in several Ghanaian missions in the coming years, we will draw lessons from the successes and shortcomings of the London PAC – I hope more successes than shortcomings”, she said.
Also present at the event was Ghana’s High Commissioner to UK and Ireland, HE. Papa Owusu-Ankomah. In his address, he called on all Ghanaians in the UK to use the services of PAC. The High Commissioner noted that the establishment of PAC comes as a relief to the mission as it provides an alternative for anyone wanting to apply for visas and passports. The High Commissioner further added, “I hope that we’ll cooperate so that this becomes a success and demonstrates the way Ghana is improving its consular services globally”.
In an opening address, Mr Nidal Kamouni, CEO, of Access Group said “We are a Ghanaian company with international reach serving reputable governments and are delighted to be working with the government of Ghana to handle and manage what we call the front-end element of service delivery, which is basically ensuring that all citizens and visitors to Ghana have the best experience when it comes to applying for their passports & visas, offloading some of the volumes and load off the High Commission