Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Meshal Bin Hamdan Alrogi, says that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to strengthening developmental cooperation with Ghana.
He is optimistic that such future efforts will enhance Ghana’s developmental agenda.
Ambassador Meshal Alrogi says that Agriculture, oil and gas, tourism, and education have been identified as very promising sectors that the two countries need to step up efforts to build to ensure mutual growth.
He made these statements in an interview with Radio Univers’ Dr. (Alhaji) Abubakari Sidick Ahmed as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrates its National Day, known as Al-Yaom-ul-Watany.
The Day is to celebrate the unification of the country as a kingdom since September 23, 1932, by King Abdul-Aziz.
For the Saudis, the Day gives the country is an opportunity to reflect on its history and celebrate the values that the Kingdom aspires to uphold, such as support to humanity beyond the boundaries of race, color, and nationality.
Saudi Arabia’s support to Ghana
Mr. Meshal Alrogi says that a lot has so far been done by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support Ghana’s growth.
Mr. Meshal Alrogi says that the relations between Ghana and Saudi Arabia have grown steadily since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1960, during the reign of the Saudi King, His Royal Majesty King Mohammad Saud Ibn Abdul Aziz.
He mentioned that the Kingdom has been offering scholarships for eligible Ghanaian students to study in various disciplines in the Universities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and also serves as a destination for greener pastures for many Ghanaian youths.
As a result, Saudi Arabia has become more increasingly important to Ghana both as a host to thousands of Ghanaian pilgrims yearly and a source of developmental aid for her being the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance.
He says that this partnership has grown since his assignment to Ghana over the last two years.
This, he adds, is characterized by the exchange of state visits of very high-profiled governmental delegations of the two countries.
From 29th to 31st October 2019, Vice president Alhaji Dr. Mahamoudu Bawumia led a delegation to attend the 3rd Session of the International Conference of the Public Investments Fund Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.
Also in November 2018, Vice President Alhaj Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia visited King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh and conveyed a message from President Nana Akufo-Addo to King Salman.
These visits were followed by a state visit by the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botwei to Riyadh and a state visit by the Saudi Minister of State for African Affairs Mr. Ahmad Al Kattan to Accra, where he had meetings with His Excellency President Nana Akufo Addo and His Excellency the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and signed a memorandum of Understanding on political consultations with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
Highlighting Saudi scholarships, Ambassador Meshal stated that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has offered scholarships to many Ghanaians to study both locally and abroad in fields that extend beyond religion to include the sciences and arts.
Ambassador Meshal Hamdani revealed that in 2020, the Government of Saudi Arabia under the able leadership of The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah preserve him) increased the scholarship package for Ghanaians to 156 scholarships annually.
This, he says, was duly communicated to the scholarship secretariat through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
Discussing bilateral trade between both countries, the Ambassador outlined that efforts are underway to soar up trade volumes.
He recounted that during the visit of the Ghanaian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey to Riyadh in January 2020, the honorable Minister met with a number of captains of business and tycoons in the Kingdom where she wooed them to invest in Ghana.
Again, Ambassador Meshal stated that a business delegation was scheduled to embark on an exploratory investment visit to Ghana had it not being the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic and subsequent imposition of travel restrictions.
He was optimistic that such plans would materialize in due time.
Bilateral trade agreements are catalyst for the growth of bilateral trade.
Recognizing this, Ambassador Meshal said that the two countries are working on signing an MoU on avoidance of double taxation to enable smooth foreign direct investments between the two friendly states.
Trade between the two countries currently revolves around the trade in fabrics, clothing, food items, and certain religious apparel.
Discussing possible areas of developmental cooperation between the two states, Ambassador Meshal identified sectors such as Agriculture, oil and gas, tourism, and education as very promising sectors that the two countries need to step up efforts to build to ensure mutual growth of both countries.
He indicated that so far the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) has supported many infrastructural projects in Ghana such as the expansion and rehabilitation of the Bolgatanga Hospital, construction of an accident Unit at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, donation of medical equipment and an annual donation of 50tonnes of the date fruits just to mention but a few.
Ghana for a very long time has been exporting Labour to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which boosts both economies directly.
Thus, whereas Ghanaians in Saudi Arabia help in building the economy of Saudi; in return, it fights unemployment in Ghana and also leads to the injection of foreign exchange through remittances into the economy of Ghana and thus stabilizes the economy by mitigating inflation.
He, however, indicated that Labour migration to the Gulf countries especially in recent times has been halted officially pending regulations between Ghana and such states.
In the particular case of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Meshal is convinced that the two countries need to regulate the process through bilateral agreements to secure the rights of both employers and employees to bring mutual growth of both economies.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Meshal Bin Hamdan Alrogi expressed his delight for the good hospitality offered him so far in Ghana and indicated his preparedness to contribute his quota to strengthening the great relationship between Ghana and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.