Ghana continues to be a leader in Africa when it comes to its relationship with the diaspora community. It’s the first country to have a Diaspora Affairs Office in the Presidency designed to focus on the needs of its people living outside the country. The biennial Ghana Diaspora Celebration and Homecoming Summit, which runs from 3rd – 6th July 2019, had a successful opening day at the Accra International Conference Centre. Many dignitaries and government officials were there to be part the opening day including, Mustapha Hamid, Minister of Information, Barabara Oteng Gyasi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Jessica Ayivor, Vice President of the African American Association of Ghana and H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennet, Head of Mission, Diaspora African Forum. A special Keynote address from President Nana Akufo-Addo was a highlight that served to put a stamp on the importance of this conference.
Akufo-Addo said some key things in his address that gave everyone the confidence that he takes this event and the work of the Diaspora Affairs office seriously. “When I’ve visited countries outside our shores, I’ve engaged with members of the Ghanaian community not only to tell them about the progress we made in our country but also to listen to their concerns.” He continued his address saying, “When I was informed the remittances from Ghanaians in the diaspora has increased by nearly 50% from $2.2 Billion USD in 2017, to $3 Billion USD in 2018, it reinforced my decision to continue to engage in this important constituency that continues to support the growth and the progress of our economy.”
Mr. Akwasi Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, has done a great job of engaging with the diaspora. Known for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with people from the diaspora, Mr. Ababio is perhaps one of the most accessible people in government. During his address on the first day of events, he said, that the summit was working towards enhancing the quality of life for Ghanaians both at home and in the diaspora. “We also recognize the strategic role those in the diaspora play in Ghana’s development,” he said. “The [upcoming] sessions will highlight the past and present actions of the diaspora and the future opportunities working together to build Ghana.”
Event registrants came from all corners of the globe including, Kenya, Turkey, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Australia, Belgium, the U.K., United States, and Canada. Each expecting to network and build connections with others who have a strong interest in Ghana. Adjoa Agyeman, a diasporan from Canada said she decided to come to the event because she has returned to Ghana and faced some obstacles. “I wanted to come and see if anyone else is having the same challenges that I am having and also to see if there are any remedies that are being brought up. So far I haven’t gotten a lot of answers, I’m still waiting. There are some issues that came up, like getting the Ghana card, and I thought it wasn’t resolved. So I am looking forward to the next few days and hoping all of my questions will be answered.”
A man from the U.K, who wished to remain nameless, said he was excited about all the things happening in Ghana so he decided to attend the event in hopes of networking and meeting new people. While Karl-Buah Obed, who travelled from Hong Kong spoke about how impressed he is with the Diaspora Affairs Office. He said that he was happy at how quick Mr. Ababio and his team are to respond to the needs of people like himself from the diaspora. Obed said it’s important to have someone in an office like that who cares about the needs and concerns of people who are transitioning to Ghana.
Over the next few days, the conference will feature other keynote speakers and panel discussions tackling some of the concerns of the diaspora. “The critical role of those living in the diaspora cannot be overstated,” the president said in wrapping up his Keynote address. He stressed that he will continue to have all diaspora matters centralized in the Diaspora Affairs Office where it currently resides.
The conference runs until 6th July so it’s not too late to attend if you’re already in Ghana and looking to participate in the activities. Visit the website at www.myghanadiaspora.com for more details on registration and to download the event program. For more info on the Diaspora Affairs office visit the website, www.ghanaiandiaspora.com orwww.yearofreturn.com.