Ghanaian diaspora returnees have been given the opportunity to contribute to the process of fashioning a national diaspora policy at a forum in Accra.
The policy will also guide diaspora engagement activities locally to aid national development. The forum, an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and funded by German Development Co-operation (GIZ), was the maiden listening event for returnee Ghanaians and people of African descent. It was also intended to offer all stakeholders relevant information to enhance the capacity of Ghanaians abroad. The forum follows the establishment of a fully fledged Diaspora Affairs Bureau to host the national platform for diaspora engagement in Ghana.
In an opening address read on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hannah Tetteh, she said that the ministry had chosen to meet Ghanaian returnees and people of African descent living in Ghana because they could offer constructive ideas towards shaping the national policy and practices of diaspora engagement. She said the views of Ghanaian returnees were much more critical in fashioning out an effective and sustainable diaspora engagement.
Ms Tetteh explained that Ghanaians in the diaspora and people of African descent had lived and worked under varying circumstances abroad and at home.
While acknowledging that since the struggle for independence, Ghana had depended on the resources of the Ghanaian diaspora and people with African descent at various levels of development, she said early attempts at using the resources of Ghanaian compatriots abroad were not structured to ensure sustained development.
According to her, efforts had been made to, in recent times, mainstream diaspora issues in national development issues.
“In an era of globalisation and heightened competitiveness in the pursuit of national interest, no nation can develop effectively without implementing a clear strategy that seeks to harness the potential of a majority of human resource including its diaspora and those who consider that country as a homeland,” she added.
She said the ministry was of the conviction that leveraging multiple roles of the diaspora as senders of remittances, investors, philanthropists, innovators and exportable labour, and first movers in the growth of important sectors may well wean Ghana of its dependency on aid and development financing.
Advisor on Migration and Diaspora at GIZ, Mr David Tette, said some years back, migration had a negative connotation, but it had assumed a positive connotation because it was mutually beneficial to both countries.
He said Ghana had a lot of human resources in the diaspora that could be engaged effectively to enhance the country’s developmental efforts.
According to him, Ghanaians abroad had to be motivated to come home during their vacations to undertake projects, share knowledge, skills and technology with their compatriots.
The Director of the Diaspora Affairs Bureau of the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Filbert Johnson says the Bureau was established under the recommendation or President Mahama to meet the needs of the growing number of Ghanaians residing abroad interested in contributing to Ghana’s development and well-being.
He says the DAB will conduct research on policies, initiatives, and legislation geared towards augmenting the engagement of Ghanaians in the Diaspora
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