Fritz Poku Retires
On August 15,
2006, H. E. Fritz Poku left Washington, DC for retirement after
35 years as a career diplomat and a Foreign Service Officer for
In a letter
written earlier to the Ghanaian communities, through their associations
in North America, Ambassador Poku informed all, with regret, of
his impending retirement. It was the end of his tour as Ambassador,
he said, and he thanked them for the goodwill and the support given
to him, his office and staff during his stay here.
most rewarding part of his tour as Ambassador, His Excellency Fritz
Poku wrote, has been the privilege of working with beautiful
people like you.
a two year diplomatic service in the US for H. E. Poku, but as
some in the community described it, it was one which was packed
back to front with stellar achievements; the invitation by the
US Congressional Caucus to address both House and Senate of the
State of Illinois, a first by an African diplomat, and the awarding
of the MCA grant to Ghana by the US government during his tenure
were some of the instances cited.
H. E. Poku clears his desk
At my request,
as the publisher of ThisWeekGhana, Ambassador Poku and I sat through
an hour of conversation at his office at the Embassy in Washington,
DC. There was much to talk about. And with probing questions, the
information came out in chunks, with no betrayal of hubris or emotional
awareness of the importance of his contributions in the overall
service to his country on his part.
a young age of 61, Ambassador Poku was proceeding on retirement.
My observation was that the archaic civil service rules of Ghana
had done it again. To require that seasoned officers retire at the
ripe age of 60, when, perhaps, they could be most productive, I
said, was wrong.
to my observation was different. He said that his total experience
as a Foreign Officer with accreditation to diverse countries
has been a fulfilling and enriching one. And that there
was much in his 35 years experience in the diplomatic world that
he was thankful for.
H. E. Poku plays host to Harambee
Ambassador Poku graduated from the University of Ghana, Legon, in
1970, with BA (Hons) in French. Within years after graduation and
while working as a Foreign Officer, he would gain a string of post
graduate diplomas to culminate with a Barrister at Law degree in
1982 and a call to the bar in 1983.
role as a Foreign Officer in the service of his country, he said,
started on a particular key theme in the Ivory Coast when he realized
that the best way to serve his government would be to help it formulate
country specific policies that would apply to the countries it had
missions in. That theme became his approach to discharging the service
required of him as a diplomat in all the countries he was to serve.
to March 2002 when the MCA Fund was proposed by President Bush
in Monterrey. President Bush had called for a "new compact
for global development
" This was an attempt to link
greater contributions from developed nations to greater
responsibility from developing nations in order to help
Third World countries combat poverty. In January 2004, the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) was founded by Congress to help administer
the funds voted for the MCA project. Ambassador Poku
H. E. Fritz Poku
was to arrive
in the US in July 2004 with his country specific attitude
to help channel Ghanas effort to win the MCA Compact. Barely
a month before Ambassador Poku left for retirement, the Compact
was signed with Ghana receiving about a quarter of the total fund
allotted and the remainder going to 8 other nations.
through competence or providence, Ambassador Poku thrived in the
Foreign Service, always being at the center of critical junctures
of some paramount policy developments.
he was serving as Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent representative
of Ghana to the OAU & ECA when the transition to African Union
was proposed. He served on some of the Ministerial Sessions and
Summits that brought the AU to fruition.
He was a member
of the delegation for the historic 5th Ministerial Meeting of
the World Trade
H. E. Poku
at the US Chamber of
Commerce for the MCA Compact
held in Cancun, Mexico, 2003. The repercussions to that meeting
are being felt today and would most likely be felt for a long time
to come because of its link with agricultural subsidies in the developed
world; a subject which has become a bone of contention between the
First and the Third World.
Poku happened to be serving as the Director of International Organizations
and Conferences (1996-97) at the foreign Affairs headquarters in
Accra at the time when His Excellency Kofi Annan was being considered
for the Secretary Generals officeat the UN. Needless to say,
he spearheaded the Ghana governments interest to have this
most illustrious son elected to the post.
Back in Washington,
DC, in his capacity as the CEO of Embassy business from 2004 onward,
H. E. Fritz Poku insisted on a customer service approach
for his staff. Service was the goal. Everyone, big or small, he
said, had a part to play to help burnish the Embassys image
as a place for the efficient delivery of consular services.
H. E. Poku (middle) on the podium
with President Kufuor (top right corner)
and others at the Willard Hotel,
Wash. DC for the MCA Compact
reception for Diasporans
piccolo player the Ambassador would say, alluding to a huge
orchestra, had equally an important part to play in the rendition
of the music.
and his wife, Mrs Nana Poku have four children. The family left
the US for Ghana on August 15, 2006.
Washington, DC August 19, 2006
H. E. Poku and family departing
from Dulles Airport, Washington, DC