Newly appointed Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana talks immigration, trade and investment with Joy Business

Kati Csaba has started work as the newly appointed Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana.

In her first media interview since being accredited by President Akufo-Addo on February 1, 2021, she expatiated her main priority to Joy Business’s Charles Ayitey – assisting Ghana’s inclusive economic growth and recovery from the shocks of the Coronavirus Pandemic.  

“We are doing everything to aid Ghana’s inclusive economic growth – in line with the Ghana Cares Programme – through our support to climate-smart agriculture, technical and vocational education and training, access to finance and training for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and women’s economic empowerment,” she noted.

Canada and Covid-19

Overall, Canada is active on the world scene, and is a committed partner in supporting global health objectives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  This has included commitment to the eradication of polio and active engagement in efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa.

Kati Csaba explains that this sets the stage for Canada’s resolve to assist Ghana in the fight against Covid-19. For example, veterinary staff originally trained and equipped by Canada to detect anthrax, avian flu and African swine fever have applied same laboratory skills and equipment to COVID-19—including redirecting PCR machines to support Ghanaian health authorities to test for COVID-19 from the early stages of the pandemic.

Further, “we are a major contributor to the Covax Facility managed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. We have provided over CAD 250 million for vaccines, CAD 75 million for distribution of those vaccines and CAD 5 million for a mechanism to share surplus vaccines,” she added.

Bilateral trade with Ghana

As of 2018, bilateral trade between Canada and Ghana reached over $341 million. Canadian exports totaled more than $264.6 million while imports from Ghana reached $77.2 million with the main Canadian exports being cereals, vehicles and parts, machinery, textiles and beverages. 

Also, the main imports from Ghana included cocoa, rubber, mineral ores and wood.

Meanwhile, Kati Csaba says there are open investment opportunities Canada will explore under her tenure.  

According to Ms. Csaba, “we (Canada) want to take advantage of opportunities of economic importance and help Canadian investors create the linkages they need to succeed here in Ghana. We see opportunities in infrastructure, clean technology, agriculture and education. Also, we are going to rely on partnerships to encourage trade and investments for continued growth from which both our countries will benefit.”

Continental Free Trade

With a $3.5 trillion turnover, prospects for the AfCFTA look attractive to countries like Canada. The trade and investment potential, the High Commissioner says, remains significant.

Canada is “providing support to the Secretariat through funding to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). 

“Having been a country that relies heavily on trade, we fully recognize that a trade arrangement like this is so relevant to enable the free flow of goods and services. We see the same opportunities as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (formerly NAFTA) in the AfCFTA. I think it also offers opportunities with countries like Canada,” she added.

Social and agro-based interventions

The High Commissioner to Ghana outlined some of the recent results of Canadian assistance to Ghana. Already, Canada has enabled more than 65,000 people to live in open-defecation-free communities through the provision of toilet facilities, significantly decreasing diarrhea and other sanitation-related illnesses. 

It has also provided over 60,000 people with access to clean water through solar mechanized water delivery systems and, where this has not been possible, rainwater harvesting systems and boreholes. 

Through the Modernizing Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) programme, Canada has worked with the government to revitalize Ghanaian agricultural extension services, making it possible for information, technology and innovation to reach over 3.5 million farmers, which has drastically enhanced productivity and food security.

“We have provided support to 23,000 women soya bean farmers and helped improve their productivity by 200 percent, which has had a significant impact on their income,” she added.  By ensuring that gender equality is at the heart of all investments, Canada is committed to operationalizing innovative approaches to reduce inequality and contribute to sustainable development throughout Ghana.  

Immigration

As the Coronavirus Pandemic bites economies the world over, countries are introducing travel bans to limit the importation of the virus. The High Commissioner to Ghana has warned that only essential travel to Canada will be permitted.

“Canada has several travel restrictions in place and there have been new measures just announced. These are not specific to Ghana; they cover all countries. Even those with a valid visa may not necessarily be able to travel to Canada right now. Where people have the proper documentation and authorization to do so, we allow entry, but for essential, non-discretionary purposes only. Our Government is recommending that this is not the time for travel.” she explained.

Profile

Kathleen (Kati) Csaba (BA [Political Studies and Russian], Queen’s University, 1988; MA [Central/East European and Russian-Area Studies], Carleton University, 1993) began her career at External Affairs and International Trade Canada in 1993. 

In 1995, Ms. Csaba joined the Canadian International Development Agency and occupied several programming and analytical roles covering Central and Eastern Europe, including 4 postings in the region: as the second secretary in Kyiv (1995 to 1997), as head of aid in Sarajevo (1997 to 1999), as head of aid in Moscow (2005 to 2009) and as development director in Kyiv (2009 to 2012). 

She also served as the director of amalgamation implementation in the Sub-Saharan Africa Branch (2014 to 2015), followed by a posting to the embassy in Addis Ababa as minister-counselor responsible for Canada’s development program with Ethiopia (2015 to 2017). She served as ambassador to Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro (2017 to 2020).

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