There is a country where democracy is stable, Christians and Muslims live together peacefully, the economy is improving, and the land is rich with natural resources, such as oil and gold. This is Ghana, where after thirty years the Hungarian embassy is open again. Globoport.hu talked to the new Hungarian ambassador to Ghana, András Szabó.
Globoport: How does such a reopening happen? What tasks await the ambassador?
András Szabó: We returned to Ghana after 30 years, and it’s not an easy task. Imagine moving into a new house – it’s nothing but blank walls. Currently we’re building the embassy, both literally and figuratively. We don’t have much so far; we have to buy cars, we don’t have a landline, we have to manage everything on the internet. But these are just the walls, the hardware, which have to be filled with content.
We have 30 lost years to make up for, and some economic projects of great magnitude to complete, which is the ministry’s primary goal. Of course, serious preparation led to the reopening of the embassy, and Ghana was not entirely foreign to us either. Since Ghana is one of the most stable democracies with the most dynamic economy in the region it was an obvious starting point for Hungarian diplomacy in West Africa. Compared to the other countries in the region, infrastructure is excellent here, which makes it easier for us to establish a base. I myself represent Hungary not only in Ghana, but Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Gambia as well.
But this is not the only reason which makes Ghana an ideal place for diplomacy. We have a huge advantage: Foreign Minister Hannah Tetteh is of Hungarian descent.
Her father studied in Szeged, and he married a Hungarian woman. The Foreign Minister grew up in Ghana, but she speaks Hungarian and regards Hungary with affection. And there are other Ghanaians who studied in Hungary or have Hungarian ties. This environment is really inspiring for me and my colleagues, and we begin our jobs with great anticipations.
G: As an ambassador, what would you consider a really big success?
A. Sz.: The first step is to re-establish this network of connections. We lost track of many people in the last 30 years. We estimate that at least half a year will be necessary to complete this. As for your question, in the next few years we’re planning to start at least three or four of those economic projects I have mentioned.
Obviously we would like to focus on traditional Hungarian fields, such as agriculture, water management, and waste management, which are all important and promising.
Moreover, cyber security can become significant; although there is still a lot to do in this field, Hungarian companies have a good foundation. And what is important to me personally is sport. As it was also proven by our results at the Olympics, Hungary has huge resources and experience, and we would like to contribute by stadium, sports court, and pool developments, and by imparting the relevant knowledge.
G: You’ve also worked as a diplomat in Morocco. How would you compare the two countries?
A. Sz.: The distance and the climate makes Ghana a more difficult country for an individual. But at the same time: this is real Africa. Both nature and the culture are truly special. The tribal kingdoms live on; in Kumasi, the Ashanti kings’ Golden Stool still stands, and the monarch of the Ashanti enjoys great public respect. On the north, there are beautiful Christian and Islamic architectural monuments such as the Larabanga Mosque, or the Navrongo Cathedral.
Although Ghana is not a typical tourist destination, I can only recommend it.
As for business ventures, in Morocco, due to its proximity to Europe, French and Spanish companies are present everywhere. Of course, there is competition in Ghana, too, since Chinese, Indian, and Turkish companies are active in the country, as well as the usual international partners, the British and the Americans, but there are huge opportunities for Hungarian entrepreneurs as well.
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