Akufo-Addo implores further support for “Beyond the Return”

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President Akufo-Addo wants Ghanaians to extend their supportive attitude portrayed towards the “Year of Return”, to this year’s “Beyond the Return” initiative.

President Akufo-Addo believes it was due to such an attitude that the year of return was a success and he wants to see same for Beyond the Return.

A statement from the Presidency indicated that, “the welcoming attitude and the warm Ghanaian hospitality proved to be the strongest attention to hundreds of thousands of our ‘kith and kin’ from the African diaspora, who thronged our shores to commemorate the year of return.

“I urge all Ghanaians to demonstrate this same level of excitement and commitment that characterised the “Year of Return,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo initiated the Year of Return to invite all diasporans back home to not only learn more but explore and even invest in the country.

Since this initiative began many African-Americans have made their way into the country to learn more about their history. Some include Steve Harvey , Samuel L Jackson , Anthony Anderson, Micheal Jai White, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons and many others.

The President launched the now “Beyond the Return” initiative as a way to continue with and solidify relations between Africans and those in the diaspora.

He said the “Year of Return’, proved itself to be exciting, and afforded Ghanaians the chance to re-establish, intensify and solidify the relations between those of us on the continent and those in the diaspora.”

He further commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other institutions and persons who made The Year of Return possible for “their sense of professionalism and dedication to duty, which enabled them to preserve the peace and security of our country in the course of the celebration.”

The President also urged Ghanaians to take advantage of all opportunities that the initiative will present as this “will entail that we engage in mutually beneficial trade, investment and cultural co-operation with the Africa Diaspora.”

Government opens ‘Sankofa Account’ for Diaspora

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The Ministry of Finance has created an investment mechanism to help drive investment into the country from the Diaspora.

Known as the ‘Africa Sankofa Account or the ‘Diaspora Savings and Investment Account,’ the interest accruing banking product is targeted at Africans living abroad, who desire to invest in the Ghanaian economy.

The ministry is collaborating with universal banks to market the product targeted at institutional and retail investors in the diaspora, raking in about $3 billion.

Announcement

The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, who announced the initiative at a media briefing in Accra yesterday, said the account was would be operational within the next three months.

The minister said MoF would engage the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to fine-tune how to create the instrument to draw in the funds and how to get the retail impact of the investment account.

Mr Ofori-Atta said through the initiative, the government was creating a favourable environment for Africans in the diaspora to make investment contributions into the economy.
He said the account, when fully operational, would help ease the integration of the global African family abroad into the society and put Ghana on the map as the preferred investment destination.
“This is to encourage the diaspora to see themselves as Ghanaians when conducting business in Ghana or buying a land,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

Mr Ofori Atta explained that although many people in the diaspora had the desire to invest in the economy, the challenge over the years had been how to identify the right products that did not conflict with the country’s securities rules.

As a result, he said, by the new initiative the government was seeking to encourage the full participation of the diaspora through such secure investment products.

“What is important for Ghana is how to create an instrument that enables the average or retail person as a Ghanaian, or Caribbean or African American to participate in a way that doesn’t conflict with securities rules,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

Remittances

The desire to invest into the economy by Africans in the diaspora, according to the minister, was evident in the volume of remittance transactions that had been recorded over the past few years.

For instance, he said, remittances from the diaspora into the country had been rising from $2.4 billion in 2017 to $2.5 billion in 2018.

The amount, he said, was expected to hit $3.2 billion when data from the final quarter of 2019 was released.

Although banks have such diaspora and offshore accounts through which Ghanaians abroad and other investors channel their funds, this is the first time the government was taking advantage of the large pool of investable funds offshore that could be harnessed for long-term development.

Investment agenda

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, for her part, said the investment product was in line with the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative that was launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo last week, following the successful celebration of the ‘Year of Return’ initiative.

She said the focus of the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative was the help drive investments from the diaspora into the country to help boost the economy.

Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said many people the ministry had engaged so far were interested in making some investment commitments in the country, hence the importance of the ‘Sankofa Account’.

“The account provides an opportunity for even those with limited funds to invest in the country,” the minister said.

She, however, advised the private sector to desist from exploiting the diasporan community who had made a birthright journey home.

Tourism Authority

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr Akwesi Agyeman, for his part, said the ‘Sankofa Account’ would help move the relationship between Ghana and the diaspora from a mere visit to one based on investment.

He explained that the investment product would be the springboard for the diasporan community to partake in the rebuilding of the African continent.

Source: www.graphic.com

Beyond The Return: Popcaan acquires a home in Ghana after “Year Of Return” visit (Watch)

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Popcaan did not just return to Ghana for a visit but also acquired a house in the country to make it his home as well.

Among the many globally recognized faces that have been seen in Ghana at the back of the “Year Of Return” initiative, the top Jamaican dancehall artiste has also been spotted in Ghana, where he toured the Cape Coast Castle.

Being deeply African rooted, Popcaan after his tour at the castle wrote: “I went and lay this wreath in memory of my ancestors that was put in these dungeons and ship to Jamaica and other parts of the world 🇬🇭stronger now and also free #capecoastcastle”.https://www.instagram.com/popcaanmusic/?utm_source=ig_embed

Also via his Instagram page, the “Vanquish” singer has announced that he has acquired a new home in Ghana. In one of the clips he posted of himself walking the hallway of his new home, he said: “Over Africa wicked man ting. Mi jus buy mi brand new house over Ghana. Yuh haffi have house everyweh!”.

Popcaan’s move falls right in place of the Government’s new “Beyond The Return” initiative which comes after “Year of Return” campaign, encouraging the African diaspora to make investments in the continent to make it a better place in the world.

Have a look at Popcaan’s new home in his post below.

Year Of Return: Akwasi Agyeman Praises Ghana Police For Good job Done

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The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyemang, has eulogised the Ghana Police Service for a “wonderful job” done throughout the Year of Return events.

The GTA says it has been overwhelmed by the effort of the Police in ensuring a crime-free environment to ensure the safety of citizens and foreigners in the country.

Akwasi Agyemang said on the Citi Breakfast Show:

“The police have been at it. Sometimes we find them a little irritating when they have all these roadblocks but they have done a decent job to have the numbers that we have had in some of these events, sometimes 20,000 people in a particular place. There has not been any major incident although there may be little events like pick-pocketing, but by and large they’ve done a wonderful job and I believe with the same level of cooperation with National Security and Police, we will go far”

He added that the number of repeat visits of diasporans to the country shows that visitors left Ghana fulfilled.

“People have felt so fulfilled and for me, the testimony is the number of people who have come, I can take people like Boris Kodjoe, Bozoma, AJ Johnson who came here first time in December 2018, and as of August 2019, she had been back five times. People are making repeat visits, people are really coming back, wanting to do more”

How Trump’s tweets — and Cardi B — are making more Americans move to Ghana

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By Danielle Paquette 

ACCRA, Ghana — The man from Boston stared at the ocean and thought: Maybe I’ll never go back.

He’d come to coastal Ghana for an adventure, he told friends, but his motivation ran deeper. Pierre Delva, 32, craved a fresh start without the question that had bothered him since childhood.

“Is it because I’m black?” the used-car salesman said, reclining at a seaside bar in the nation’s capital, Accra. “You don’t have to wonder here.”

What started as an anniversary promotion called the Year of Return — a government-funded call for the African diaspora to explore Ghana four centuries after the first slave ship reached Virginian soil — has enticed some Americans to stay for good.

Pierre Delva, 32, moved to Accra in August to explore business opportunities. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)
Pierre Delva, 32, moved to Accra in August to explore business opportunities. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)

 

Officials in this West African nation of roughly 29 million people say interest has overwhelmed the tourism office as the annual flood of visitors has more than doubled and A-list celebrities spark frenzies around the capital.

By December, border agents were running out of visa stickers. Applications to enter Ghana shot up from about 1,000 per week to a staggering 10,000, said Akwasi Agyeman, chief executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority. Most visitors are American, he said.

More surprising, he said, was the number of people who have decided to stay: 126 were granted citizenship this fall, including 46 Americans, in the country’s biggest naturalization ceremony since 2016.

“We could not have imagined this,” Agyeman said.

The rush to Ghana, where millions of Africans were forced into servitude before the slave trade ended in 1870, intensified after tweets from President Trump.

In July, Trump told four congresswomen — including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali refugee — to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came,” sparking outrage around the world. (All four are U.S. citizens.)

Omar responded Aug. 1 from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, where she posted photos with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on an official visit this summer.

“So grateful for the honour to return to Mother Africa,” Omar tweeted.

The high-profile sparring amplified attention on Ghana, Agyeman said. Calls and emails surged. Hotel costs climbed.

People spoke of booking a trip, he said, as a way to strike back at Trump’s words.

Ghana’s quest to attract tourists began as a strategy to bolster the economy. It’s a mission countries across the continent share as leaders aim to harness historical sites, national parks and glittering shorelines.

A view from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. (Natalija Gormalova/AFP/Getty Images)
A view from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. (Natalija Gormalova/AFP/Getty Images)

Consumer spending on tourism, hospitality and leisure in Africa is projected to hit $262 billion in the next decade, up from $124 billion in 2015, according to the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Business leaders laud it as a path to shrink reliance on raw-material exports to foreign superpowers that tend to exploit workers and hog the benefits.

The climate in Ghana is ripe for entrepreneurs to fill potholes, add traffic lights and digitize tax returns, among other business moves, said Kojo Terry Oppong, founder of BlackBand, a concierge service for tourists and business travellers.

“This is a market where you can solve a lot of basic problems and make a lot of money,” said Oppong, 30, who was born in Accra and raised primarily in New Jersey.

It’s also part of the youngest region on Earth, with an exploding middle class of customers.

The problem: Some foreigners associate Africa with disease, war and famine. Celebrities with gigantic social media followings are helping to spread another view.

Steve Harvey and the rapper T.I. visited the country in recent weeks, for instance, along with Conan O’Brien, who filmed a special in Accra. (“It’s very important to me that I am very popular in Ghana,” O’Brien said in the November bit.)

The buzz is reaching phone screens worldwide.

“People can look up and say, ‘Cardi B’s in Africa?’ ” Oppong said. “What does that even look like?”

It looks like an artist with 56 million Instagram followers strutting into Accra’s posh Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City one December night as fans sporting Versace and wax prints shrieked.

A reporter asked Cardi B about her impression of Ghana hours before she played her first show in the country.

“They don’t know it’s lit,” the rapper said of her fellow Americans. “They don’t know it’s beautiful. They don’t know the food is delicious.”

Cardi B takes questions from fans in December at the posh Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)
Cardi B takes questions from fans in December at the posh Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)
Fans watch Cardi B talk at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)
Fans watch Cardi B talk at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City. (Danielle Paquette/The Washington Post)

Cardi B had ordered spicy prawns from the poolside grill that afternoon and checked into a suite that costs up to $12,000 a night. (She later performed in a Ghanaian red, yellow and green bodysuit.)

Down in the lobby, Maurice Cheetham, a Ghanaian American from Detroit who launched a tour company here two years ago, lounged in a leather booth.

“When I was growing up, it wasn’t ‘cool’ to be African,” he said as lanky models nearby snapped selfies. “I put it deep inside me.”

That changed after his father died. Cheetham, 45, felt called to discover his roots and fell in love with Accra.

“Now everyone wants to come,” he said. His clients have quadrupled.

The swelling crowds of Americans are putting more cash into local pockets. Artists at the biggest craft market in town estimate their monthly earnings have risen from about $450 to $750.

But some see the visitors as rich people in a fancy adult version of a study-abroad program.

“They already have a lot of money,” said Kojo Osei, 37, who hawks soccer jerseys at an Accra stall.

Osei notices mostly families or tourists in their late 20s and 30s — not a lot of high school graduates seeking greener pastures in a nation where the average yearly earnings amount to $2,130.

“If they really want to see Ghana, they should go to the villages,” he said. “See the reality.”

Ghana’s government hopes the spotlight will create more jobs for everyone. Next year brings “Beyond the Return,” a public campaign to help new arrivals get settled for the long haul.

Delva, the former Bostonian, landed in August with his life savings and a YouTube education on Ghana.

“I watched every video out there,” he said.

The Year of Return chatter had sparked his interest. His parents are from Haiti with roots in West Africa. He felt stuck in America. He was sick of the racism.

The foreign land across the Atlantic seemed more accessible.

“You can’t just walk into the Bank of America and ask for a meeting with the CEO,” Delva said. “You’ve got a shot to do things like that here.”

Now he has a full calendar, a spacious apartment and a mix of friends with big plans.

“When I think about going home to the States,” Delva said, “it almost makes me want to cry.”

Of course, he’ll visit his family. But this place, he said, holds his future.

Delva recently found a scrawny dog on the beach, fed him back to health and named him Billion — a nod, he said, to his potential in Ghana.

A tourist takes a photo of the dungeons at the Cape Coast Castle. (Natalija Gormalova/AFP/Getty Images)
A tourist takes a photo of the dungeons at the Cape Coast Castle. (Natalija Gormalova/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Osei Owusu Amankwaah contributed to this report.

Source: Washington Post

Made in Ghana Street Fair Opens this Weekend!

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The Made in Ghana Street Fair is an official Year of Return event and will feature some of the best locally made products from across the country.  Catherine Morton, CEO Street Fairs Int. and an Event organiser said this street fair is very important because it brings emphasis to Ghanaian products.  We’ve become a society that often patronizes foreign goods and this event is a great way to bring the attention back on our local products.

“We have vendors coming all the way from the Northern Region, and other very far places with products that people don’t even know about in Accra.  We believe that in this festive period, when we have Christmas, we shop a lot, but most often we forget about the indigenous products we have in Ghana,” she said. 

Having an event like this will give shoppers who flock to Osu an opportunity to meet vendors and learn about what they are selling while supporting local business owners. “We have close to 300 vendors participating this year,” she said, “You’ll find everything from garments to textiles, beauty, food, arts and crafts, almost every category.  Being a Year of Return event, this also puts the spotlight on our locally made products for visitors to take advantage of.  This is one of the ways we can export our culture to the diaspora through products and services. 

 

The Made in Ghana Street Fair takes place twice this month; 20th-22nd December in Osu on Oxford Street and 27th-29th December at Junction Mall.

Year of Return: Kwaw Kese’s Return Concert Will Shut Down Oxford Street

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Madtime Entertainment presents the Kwaw Kese’s The Return concert. promises to be one of the biggest shows for the holiday season!  This concert is an official Year of Return event and some of his industry friends will be taking to the stage.  This event aims to bring together the diaspora who have travelled to Ghana and experience events during the Year of Return as well as local Ghanaians who want to see their favourite artists while getting the chance to meet and mingle with visitors from the diaspora. 

Some of the artists who plan to join him on stage includes some of the big superstars like Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Samini, and Edem. The show will be on Osu, Oxford Street with the stage setup near Frankie’s Restaurant.  Showtime is scheduled for 5pm and will go until very late! Kwaw Kese is excited for the chance to share with young people what Year of Return is all about and give them an amazing experience at the concert. 

 

Other top-notch Ghanaian artists slated to perform include Medikal, Sista Afia, Quamina MP, Skonti, Joey B, E.L., Sefa, and Pappy Kojo. 

 

Don’t miss out on one of the biggest shows this holiday season. This Saturday 21st December on Osu, Oxford Street.

Year of Return: Accra lights-up ahead of #DecemberInGh Christmas

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The Accra Metropolitan Assembly Ridge roundabout area has been brought to life with beautiful colourful decorative lights.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly together with Jandel LTD, Ministry of Tourism, Arts And Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, Ecobank Ghana Limited, Standard Chartered Ghana at a short ceremony lighted up the Ridge area with decorative lights, art and crafts. On display in the roundabout are lighted reindeers, canoes, decorated vehicles all lighted up to set the mood for #Christmas.

 

 

The lighting-up Accra is being undertaken to beautify the city ahead of the Year of Return #DecemberInGh festivities.
#yearofreturn #brafie #Ghana2019 #letsgoghana

Photos: American Rapper Cardi B. Performs in Ghana

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Cardi B. is one of hip-hop’s most commercially successful female artists and she has a legion of fans around the world, including in Ghana.  The artist performed on Sunday 8th December at the Accra Sports Stadium to an eager crowd of fans. When she burst onto stage giving a packed performance of dancing and fireworks the crowd went wild with some rapping along to all the lyrics.

She was dressed in a costume that paid homage to the Ghana flag in red, gold and green with the black star. Even her wig, which she took off and threw into the crowd at the end of her show, was streaked with the colours of the Ghana flag.

Ahead of her performance, she had a meet and greet at the Kempinski Hotel which included celebrities, creatives, business people, media and some of her die-hard fans. Cardi arrived to cheers as everyone had waited to see her most of the day.  Originally scheduled to happen earlier that afternoon, many invited guests had waited for many hours.  Some of the invitees took to social media to express their feelings of anger and disappointment when she didn’t make an appearance in the afternoon.  Cardi explained to the audience that she wasn’t aware that a meeting with her fans and local celebrities was scheduled and assured everyone that she loves her fans and never intended to disrespect anyone.

Ghanaian Singer/Songwriter Becca moderated the Q&A session and also gave women in the audience an opportunity to ask questions directly to Cardi.

The interactive session also gave some local talents an opportunity to gift Cardi with some of their products.  Kwaku Bediako, CEO of Chocolate Clothing GH, gave her two items.  Bediako explained that he normally designs for men, but has created a new concept of unisex designs.  Cardi loved it and even asked him for a belt to wear the style he gave her. Other designers including Kua Designs took the opportunity to share their made in Ghana brands with Cardi. An artist even revealed a portrait he made of the rapper and she gave him a hug to thank him for the gift.

Nadia Adongo Musah, Deputy Director for Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the President, presented Cardi B with a Year of Return woven sash. It was also an opportunity for the Deputy Director to tell everyone more about how the Year of Return was launched by the President.

Cardi’s passion to connect with her fans meant she was willing to take pictures with everyone before she dashed off to get ready for the concert.

Akufo-Addo deserves to be praised for “Year of Return” initiative – Ablakwa

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Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu, has commended President Akufo-Addo for implementing the ‘Year of Return” initiative, ABC News can report.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, December 3, Mr. Ablakwa said Ghana has attracted considerable interest and high-level visits from Africans in the diaspora since the President made the declaration.

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”Mr. Speaker, it is most appropriate to commend our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for declaring in September, 2018 that this year – 2019, shall be observed as the: “Year of Return, Ghana 2019.” It is trite knowledge that 2019 marks 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of Jamestown, Virginia in the United States of America” the North Tongue MP told the House.

”Since this proclamation, it is fair to note that Ghana has attracted considerable interest and high-level visits from Africans in the diaspora, perhaps taken such Pan-African pilgrimages to the next level since President Jerry John Rawlings institutionalized the PANAFEST celebrations in 1992,” Okudzeto Ablakwa extolled.

Mr. Ablakwa was also full of commendation for President Akufo-Addo for conferring Ghanaian citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora. He noted that the country has done very little to take advantage of the provisions of the constitution that permits diasporans to be given such honour.

”Mr. Speaker, kindly permit me to also highlight the conferment of citizenship on 126 Africans in the diaspora by the President last week. The House will recall that last year I made a statement urging the State to make greater use of this provision in our laws,”

”Since the days of the exceptional intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois and that great poet Maya Angelou were granted citizenship, it remains my humble view that we have not made impressive effort to leverage this opportunity even though I acknowledge that in 2016 President John Dramani Mahama granted citizenship to 30 Africans in the diaspora,” he said.

In September 2018 in Washington, D.C, President Akufo-Addo declared and formally launched the ‘Year of Return Ghana 2019’ for Africans in the diaspora, giving fresh impetus to the quest to unite Africans on the continent with their brothers and sisters in the diaspora.

A number of African Americans, including Steve Harvey, Boris Kodjoe, Michael Jai White, Anthony Anderson, Idris Elba, Jidenna, Samuel L Jackson and Deborah Cox have already visited Ghana as part of the initiative.

Source: ABCNewsgh.com