Eastern Caribbean Time Zone UTC-04:00
Capital City St. George’s
Currency East Caribbean dollar
National Day 7 February
WITH A BROTHER, uncle, aunt and cousins living here, Grenada’s High Commissioner Kisha Abba Grant has felt quite at home since her appointment in the UK. She’s been visiting London frequently since October 2018 when she was appointed, but only assumed residency in the UK in October 2019.
She notes that she and her team must “wear many hats” to accomplish the wide scope of the High Commission’s work. “As a small island developing nation, Grenada’s greatest diplomatic challenge is resources. Foreign affairs is not a low-cost endeavour. But we do a lot with a little.” Much of Ms Grant’s work so far relates to “intense Commonwealth engagement, as well as engagement with the High Commissioners of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as we try to navigate the way forward with the UK, in this new Brexit era.”
Ms Grant’s first career in academia took her to the US where she completed an undergraduate degree, as well as two Masters’ degrees from the University of Oregon and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. She also spent some time in Latin America, and such was Ms Grant’s passion for languages that she went on to teach them “at high school and college level in the US.”
Meanwhile, the High Commissioner reveals her fascination to learn more about the Grenada revolution. “There are so many gaps in the information that we have. There are still issues in terms of who tells the story; whether it’s told from inside or outside Grenada… quite divergent views.” In 2008, she was awarded a grant from Vanderbilt University for a few months of election monitoring in the Caribbean. “There was a spate of elections during that period, so I went to the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Grenada. I also spent some time monitoring elections later in the British Virgin Islands.”
During those years as a student, teacher and political analyst, she spent a number of summers working at the Grenada missions in Washington DC and New York, confirming her “passion for both diplomacy, and service in the furtherance of Grenada’s development.”
In 2013, the current Grenada Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, re-assumed office. “On the night of the election,” Ms Grant recalls, “he offered me the position of Press Secretary/Spokesperson and I accepted, returning home shortly after.” At the time, she explains, “Grenada’s economy was in a slump, with a huge monthly deficit. After requesting support from the IMF, we embarked on a structural adjustment programme for a three-year period. Led by the Prime Minister, some weighty negotiations between the government and the trade unions were required, along with creating social partnerships involving governmental organisations, civil society, churches and the business community, in order to get everyone on board.” According to Ms Grant, the Structural Adjustment Programme was a success. “Grenada’s debt to GDP ratio has fallen significantly, so we were able come out of austerity quite successfully, and faster than most countries that were affected by the global recession and other economic shocks.” She remarks, “It has been amazing to observe Grenada’s progress since 2013 and to see how far we’ve come…through sound leadership and shared sacrifices.”
Within the context of Brexit, the High Commissioner opines: “we’ve been in an uncertain period since the referendum, and we now seek to redefine or re-engage trade and diplomatic relationships with the UK.” But Ms Grant is also quick to emphasise the close UK-Grenada relationship. She states: “I will seek to further enhance and strengthen our relations and see how else we can diversify… so that the relationship resounds to our mutual benefit.” Ms Grant reveals she has many ideas for this, highlighting that the UK has Grenada’s “oldest diaspora community,” but explains that “it’s one that we have not sufficiently tapped into yet.”
Another goal is to promote the UK’s role in Grenada’s development. “While there are vibrant groups in the UK that have done much for Grenada, this has not been as visible as it could be, so I want to try and get these groups out there again.” She’ll continue to work closely with the Tourism Office, and also with the Grenadian Diaspora Office, which has “re-embarked on a diaspora mission with the aim of, among other things, mapping the community and linking the skillsets we need back in Grenada with the UK’s Grenadian community.”
Back to the High Commissioner herself, Ms Grant explains, “I’ve always loved travelling, and sports such as American football, football and basketball.” But more than anything, she says, “I’m passionate about my country. I’m happy whenever I am engaged in something that I know aids Grenada’s development.”
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