Thursday, April 29, 2010

Accra: US Embassy, USAID, Millenium Challenge

After our market visit, we made our way over to the US Embassy for a meeting with USAID and Millenium Challenge. After 9/11, the US Embassy was redesigned with beefed-up security. The campus is a collection of nondescript granite buildings, and you can tell that they value function over form. Photography of the facility is prohibited, so I won't be able to provide any pictures of our excursion.
We lined up with our passports and waited for the embassy staff (who appeared to be Ghanaian) to process us through. I thought it ironic that a bunch of obrunis were queued up, waiting for some Ghanaians to let them into their own embassy. We got our visitor badges and entered the compound. A series of ramps prevents bomb-laden vehicles from driving right in, and the main building is surrounded by concrete posts. Inside the building, every door (even the coat closet) is equipped with crazy automatic locks.
In the conference room, we met with USAID and MCC officials for Ghana and West Africa. It was very interesting to hear about the projects that the U.S. is engaging in here. We talked at length about farming, and they were curious about our research on market queens.
After leaving the embassy we drove back to the airport to pick up Marissa. That poor girl has the worst luck I've ever seen. We was originally planning on going with us early to the island, but when the visas weren't looking like they were coming through she changed her ticket. At that point the only available itinerary put her here a few days after everyone else, so she ended up losing an entire week. When she flew out here, the plane malfunctioned on the runway at JFK, and then one of the passengers punched out a flight attendant. While they were investigating, the pilot and crew timed out, so they had to wait another few hours for a new crew. All in all, she spent the better part of a day sitting on the runway.
We crawled through Accra traffic back to the hotel, briefing Marissa on our Ghana experiences so far. I'm sure she promptly collapsed into bed after dinner.

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