Ghanaians in Qatar are very optimistic that things will get better for them, after their President, John Dramani Mahama, visited Qatar earlier this month, giving a boost to Qatar-Ghana ties.
While addressing the Ghanaian community in Qatar, Mahama promised that a Ghanaian embassy will be opened in Doha and a Qatari mission in Accra. He also said that bilateral agreements will be signed between the two countries, especially on labour, to protect Ghanaians from being exploited.
Speaking to Qatar Tribune Ghanaian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia HE Alhaji S Sinare, who was in Qatar during the president's visit, said that things will be much better for the Ghanaians especially after the missions are established in both countries. He said that Ghanaians in Qatar will no longer have to get consular services from Riyadh which is the situation right now.
He said the embassy will open next year, hopefully, before December.
"I am looking at between April to December; that's when the mission will be opened here. Like what the president said, the Qatari government is going to open their embassy first and Accra will then do the same. Most probably, the Qatari mission in Ghana will be set up in the first quarter of 2015," the envoy said.
The envoy said that the embassy is going to help a lot, bearing in mind that there is a large community of Ghanaians and the population is increasing further. There are about 5,000 Ghanaians in Qatar. At the end of the day, we would like to have an embassy here. It will make things easier for them, especially the renewal of passports."
The envoy further said,"At the moment, any Ghanaian wanting to renew a passport has to pass through our office in Riyadh. Normally, it takes one week for any citizen. We don't delay because everybody needs to have identification."
He added that besides the renewal of passports, labour issues another challenge that Ghanaians face will be addressed when both countries have bilateral agreements signed between the two countries.
According to the envoy, once the embassies are opened, the relationship between the two governments will grow even stronger. He said that the president's trip here was quite a success.
"We have established a good relationship since we arrived. This trip was one of the most successful trips that we have ever had and the President is very happy. And we are going to do more business between the two countries. We are so grateful to the Qatari government. We will make sure that the relationship between the two countries is not going to be a short-term one, but a relationship that will last forever.
According to the Executive of the Ghanaians in Qatar Association Kofi Atuah, the president talked about how recruitment agencies that are bringing Ghanaian workers can be monitored to stop worker exploitation.
"The relationship between the two countries will become even stronger after the prospective joint ventures in investments, tourism, infrastructure, agriculture, oil and gas, mining, as the president said," Atuah said.
On her part, the national organiser of the Ghanaians in Qatar Association Ruby Attricki said,"We are confident that now our main issues have been settled. We are assured that the embassy will open soon. Many people have also been exploited by unscrupulous recruitment agencies and we believe that all this will come to an end."
Attricki said that more and more Ghanaians are still coming to Qatar and that's why the Ghanaian Association is trying to register them.
"We have only 300 registered Ghanaians in the group and there are several others who have not registered."
She urged them to register with the Association saying,"We want to know ourselves better and know the needs of our community."
She praised Qatar saying that it is a peaceful country and thanked the government for providing a second home for Ghanaians in Qatar.