Sodzi-Tettey: Renowned Ghanaian Health Expert Laments Visa Discrimination Against African Travellers

Sodzi-Tettey: Renowned Ghanaian Health Expert Laments Visa Discrimination Against African Travellers

  • A medical practitioner in Ghana has raised concerns about the constant frustrations that some Ghanaian professionals go through to secure visas to the US and Europe for important meetings
  • Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey took to Facebook to recount some of the flimsy reseasons he has been denied a visa to attend an important conference
  • He told that he had written to Ghana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the visa discrimination issue

Renowned medical practitioner Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey has called for an end to some of the avoidable challenges that African travellers to the United States, Europe and Asia go through.

Sodzi-Tettey, the first African to serve on the Board of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua), took to Facebook on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, to share his frustrations in securing a visa to conferences in Ireland, the US and South Korea.

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Sodzi-Tettey: Renowned Ghanaian Health Expert Laments Visa Discrimination Against African Travelers
Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey and a stock photo of two passports placed on an atlas. Source: Facebook/@sodzi.sodzitettey
Source: Facebook

The Ireland-based ISQua collaborates with a wide network of individuals and associations across the globe to improve the quality and safety of healthcare worldwide, so Dr Sodzi-Tettey is required to fly out of Ghana for Board meetings.

But as he recounts, "Looking securing visas to travel to Board meetings has become my single greatest obstacle in my tenure as the first African elected to ISQua’s board in its 39-year history."

Denied visa to the USA for a strange reason

Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, also the Executive Director and Head of the Africa Region of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), said despite his extensive travel history he was once denied a visa to the US for not staying long periods in the country.

"Not once have I overstayed my welcome in any country and not once, have I nurtured any desire to abscond from beautiful Ghana.

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"You would think this would count for something. I was even once refused an American visa renewal for the reason that, 'I travelled too frequently to the US and didn’t stay for long periods,'" he recounts.

One time, according to the popular medical expert, his visa application to Ireland was delayed for seven weeks by which time the meeting he was scheduled to attend had ended.

"While travellers to Africa often breeze through our visa processes, Africans very often must endure heady encounters with embassy officials, highly suspicious that all Africans are would-be illegal immigrants until proven otherwise. The process of proving otherwise is often invasive and lacks dignity," he is concerned.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey calls for a Global Visa Racism Score

Dr Sodzi-Tettey, also the Council Chair of the Centre for Social Justice, an Accra-based think tank, wants African leaders to take action to end what he calls the "scourge of African travellers" at the hands of the embassies of some countries in Accra.

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He wants the embassies to be held to higher standards and made to respect the dignity of Africans.

"If our leaders truly believed in asserting the dignity of what Ghana’s founding President Kwame Nkrumah, called the African identity and African personality, they would hold these embassies to higher standards," he said.

He has called for African states to compile a Global Visa Racism Score which will group countries based on hostility to Africans.

"Imagine this score significantly influenced countries chosen to host conferences," he added.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey told in an exclusive interview that he has written to the Foreign Affairs Ministry over the visa discrimination issue.

He has also asked a public sector colleague to explore setting up a meeting with the minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, to explore the matter more directly.

"I have received massive responses and complaints about people who have suffered similar fates," he disclosed.

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Below is Sodzi-Tettey's full account of events on Facebook:

Ghanaian athletes and officials for the World Athletics Championships Denied visas reported not long ago that there was a major setback for Ghana athletics as top-tier Ghanaian athletes scheduled to take part in the World Athletics Championships were denied visas to the host country Hungary.

The visa applications for the two athletes were submitted two weeks ago after a late confirmation of their participation.

The Hungarian embassy in Accra even denied a visa to the well-known president of the Ghana Athletics Association.

Man who was denied visa twice 15 years ago graduates from US university

Also, a Nigerian became an inspiration to social media users when he celebrated his most recent academic success.

He finished with a distinction in his master's programme from a US university after he was denied a visa twice 15 years ago.

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The young man went on to highlight his numerous successes despite only having spent 18 months in America.

Ghana’s visa denial rate over 60%

In 2017, reported that Ghana has been ranked among countries that had the highest rate of United States visa application denials around the globe. 

Figures from the US Department of State indicate that the 2016 fiscal year saw Ghana ranked as the seventh country with the highest number of denied US visa applications.

Most of these Ghanaians applied for B visas to travel and deal in tourism or other businesses, but a staggering 65.7% of them had their applications rejected.

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