Some selected officers with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) have successfully completed a standard Chinese Language proficiency course to help bridge the communication gap between customs officers and Chinese nationals visiting the country.
The study programme was to facilitate the fast-developing bilateral relations between the two countries.
Out of the over 120 officers who took part in the course, 70 of them qualified and were awarded certificates at a ceremony to bring the programme to an end in Accra last Thursday.
The 10-week programme was begun in May and was a collaboration between the Chinese Embassy in Ghana and the Ghana Revenue Authority. Tuition for the exercise was provided by the Confucius Institute and endorsed by the University of Ghana.
The Chinese Embassy, in partnership with Confucius Institute, will this month sponsor 10 Ghanaians from various institutions and agencies to undertake a study tour of the People’s Republic of China to familiarise themselves and also enhance their proficiency in the Chinese language.
Two of the qualified officers with the customs office at the KIA demonstrated their skilfulness in the Chinese language to their Chinese tutors and other customs officers present at the ceremony including short conversations they may have with Chinese travellers at the ports.
The Assistant Commissioner of the Customs Division at the KIA, Mr Habib Osman, said China was a global economic force whose trade with Ghana and that of the rest of the world had grown sharply over the years.
Under the circumstances, he said, it had become essential for the officers to study the Chinese language in order to handle the increasing numbers of Chinese who passed through the port.
He said the objective of the programme was for customs officers at the airport to communicate effectively with Chinese visitors and offer them the assistance they may need on disembarking.
A Chief Revenue Officer with the Customs Division at the KIA, Mr Charwey William Sowah, told the Daily Graphic that due to the difficulty in communicating with some Chinese travellers who arrived at the port, the division approached the Chinese Embassy who also saw the need to organise the course for the officers.
He said some customs officers who were approached were initially apathetic to the idea because they had the perception that the Chinese language was difficult to learn.
“But that quickly changed when they saw others who had readily agreed earlier making progress,” he said.
According to him, customs would engage in further talks with the Chinese Embassy for the first batch of trainees to be given a study top-up as well as polish up on what they have learnt.
A Director at the Consular Department of the Chinese Embassy, Mr Mingjin Chen, commended the Chinese ambassador, Customs and the Ghana Immigration Service at the KIA for embarking on the worthwhile and progressive programme which stood to enhance exchanges and collaboration between the peoples of China and Ghana.