Mike Hammah in a hand shake with Williams Billy Williams

Australia is to open a visa application centre in Accra to help travelers process their visa applications in the country.

The visa centre, which would be officially opened on February 8, 2012, is expected to meet the needs of the growing number of Ghanaians traveling to Australia for business, leisure or studies.   

Many travelers, who used to process their visa applications in Nairobi, Kenya, have expressed worry over the arrangement due to delays in the processing of the visa applications.

The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, William Billy Williams made the disclosure at a reception at his residence to mark Australia’s anniversary known as ‘Australia Day.’

“We believe this new service will provide businesses and other visitors to Australia with an improved local service in support of the expanding relationship,” said the commissioner.

Under the new arrangement, it is expected that visa applicants will submit their application in person at the centre where they would also provide a fingerprint and facial scan.

The provision of the fingerprint and facial scan is to enable the centre generate a biometric data which has become an important tool in identity management throughout the world to help combat fraud and crime.

Many countries use biometric to improve visa and border checking processes and Ghana has started the implementation of a similar system at the Kotoka International airport.

Mr Williams, who congratulated the country for its achievements, noted that Australian investments and commercial engagements in Ghana continue to expand, adding, “Ghana and Australia have a strong friendship that continues to grow in line with our many common interests.”

Mike Hammah, Ghana’s Minister of Natural Resources, said the cordial relationship between the two countries is shaped by their common membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and the common positions they share on international issues of the day.

“Our two countries subscribe to the common values of democracy, good governance and the rule of law in our political systems.”

He said Ghana would count on the support of Australia and the other diplomatic missions during the election, which is slated for December 2012.

Australia Day is celebrated annually on January 26 to bring Australians together as one people.

 By Emelia Ennin Abbey

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