Member Feature: Ambassador Ron Strikker ( Kingdom Of The Netherlands Embassy- Ghana)


Member Feature: Ambassador Ron Strikker ( Kingdom Of The Netherlands Embassy- Ghana)

Goodbye Ambassador Ron Strikker

Although we said officially goodbye to Ambassador Ron Strikker on the last GNBCC cocktail on the 1st of July, we could not let him go just yet. In this interview we are looking back on his five years in Ghana and the many memories he will take home, “It’s my advantage and fortune, I really like what I am doing”

Mr. Strikker joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980 and worked in Nairobi, Tunis, Paris (Ecole Nationale d’Administration, ENA), Santiago de Chile and Bangkok and at the ministry in The Hague. In addition, he was Ambassador in Riyadh (2008 – 2012) and Ambassador in Rabat (2012 – 2016). He became Ambassador in Accra for Ghana, Togo, Sierra Leone and Liberia in 2016. Meeting him at the residence in Accra, he shares how he has seen the Netherlands and Ghana grow over the years.

During my time we had quite some important political visits from the Netherlands such as the Prime Minister, Deputy Minister, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. This shows the common political ground that we share as the Netherlands and Ghana: freedom, democracy rule of law, and respect for human rights”. Mr. Strikker emphasizes that it is not only the Netherlands and Ghana who are growing together but also the European Union and Ghana. The European Union is an important partner for trade, development and (shared) values.

Over the years the from Aid to Trade Agenda of the Netherlands was further rolled out: The Netherlands and Ghana Growing Together. There has also been a lot of progress in WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene); the Netherlands Embassy has been in this sector for over a decade now. Together with the Ministry Sanitation and Water Resources and UNICEF and others, over 50.000 toilets were constructed. For the construction of toilets, financial loans were available, but most households did not even make use of them as they gathered the money themselves. This shows that sanitation is definitely on the map in Ghana and people are ready to invest in it. Also in agribusiness, important steps forward were made:  there is an increase of productivity in cocoa, palm oil and healthy fruits/vegetables are now much more on the market thank to Hortifresh. The ambassador emphasizes how important it is to have strong partners to work with, who know what is going on: “With the COVID-relief project, the improvement of the reliability of COVID-test result in 28 laboratories in Ghana, we worked with Pharm Access, who functioned as a superb liaison for the Ghana Health Service. Solidaridad was a great partner in our agribusiness projects and Hortifresh’ role was essential in establishing the horticulture sector in Ghana. I feel lucky to have worked with so many trusted partners”.

Mr. Strikker also emphasized the role of GNBCC in the economic diplomacy of the Netherlands Embassy. “Economic diplomacy is top priority of our work here in Ghana and we had GNBCC as a fantastic partner during these five years. It was, beside the embassy itself, a second bridge to cross the river: to the network, the partners, the Ghanaians and the Dutch community. I am looking back on it with a lot of gratitude”. During the Ambassador’s time in Ghana, the Embassy and GNBCC organized many activities together such as the New Year’s reception, Tema lunches, Business Breakfasts and joint cocktails. In addition, projects like the Dutch Export Academy, the New Business Challenge and Growing Business Together were  our common flagship initiatives.

Mr. Strikker shared that he will miss the alumni evenings at the Residence, when former participants of all these entrepreneurs programs join for an evening of reflection and reconnection. “This is one of my passions; I am interested in the program and what it has achieved. I am curious about the individual, I want to know what such a participant envisages to do and where wants the entrepreneur to be in five years? What did he/she get from the training? And where do they stand now, after perhaps two or three years? That’s what you’ll get from those evenings, it was great. They made very interesting pitches and how these highlighted their progress.  “Some of them are doing really great things and that’s something I will always remember, these evenings at the Residence. And people were so happy to meet each other again, that they stayed often very long!”.

Of course, we are very curious to hear what Mr. Strikker will do in the near future. He bluntly shared that he will take up another job in the first year. “I will spend time with my family in the Netherlands. My mother is 93 and still in a good condition, she looks forward to making biking trips with me frequently! It is exactly 29 minutes away on my bike so I will be there often. Conny and I will also have much more time together, to which we look forward so much, just like our son who has already submitted my to-do list in his new apartment. And we are all very fond of sports: tennis, biking and walking”. Mr. Strikker also has plans to cycle from Amsterdam to Gibraltar and wants to walk the famous Camino de Santiago, a beautiful walk through France and Spain and Portugal. Once his first pause is over, Mr. Strikker would like to start volunteering and contribute in a meaningful way. “I’ve been given a lot in my career which I’ve been very grateful for: experiences, meeting people, travels, nice jobs and I would like to give something back”.

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