General News of Saturday, 15 July 2017
Source: Michael Acheampong
Sammy Ankrah, a UK-based multi-skilled Ghanaian professional, the creator of the award-winning film, Divine Intelligence, has said that there is a huge deposit of untapped intellectual, technological and financial resources among Ghanaians in the Diaspora that needs to be harnessed for an advancement of our country.
However, for the full benefit of this to be realised, Sammy Ankrah says the Akuffo-Addo-led government must act differently from previous governments.
Sammy Ankrah’s assertion was picked up by this reporter at the just ended Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit which took place at the Accra International Conference Centre from 5th to 8th July.
During an interval discussion at the summit, Sammy Ankrah told a section of the delegates that it was not enough for the government to just ask diasporans to come home and invest in developing the economy.
Commenting on Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay’s ‘Whining Comment’ at the summit the previous day, Sammy Ankrah said if truly some diasporans were whiners as claimed by the Deputy Minister, then they definitely had genuine reasons for doing so.
He said diasporans need to see evidence and have an assurance that government is doing enough to create the enabling environment which will attract the diverse resource of the diasporan community to be directed back home for development and progress of the nation.
Recounting one of numerous frustrating experiences faced by Diasporans when they make effort to do something to contribute to the development of the country, Sammy Ankrah said that in the early part of 2008, he came to conduct a self-sponsored environmental research at Obuasi and its environs about arsenic pollution of food crops and water sources resulting from mining activities, for an academic exercise.
He said the research (for which he did the Control Experiment of some of the samples at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Accra but the main research in the UK) produced some interesting results and there was the need for a follow-up research to cement the gray areas of the findings.
His supervisor and research partner, Professor Huw Jones was so excited about the outcome of the research that he advised Sammy Ankrah to get in touch with his home country government and notify them of his effort, for them to advance the course of the research findings for the benefit of his country.
This, the Professor said, was what other researchers from India, Malaysia, etc., from the same university had done previously. Sammy Ankrah said the research work was to be published in the International Journal of Science and Research, after the gray areas had been rectified with the follow-up research.
However, according to Sammy Ankrah, when he tried to communicate such important research findings to the Ministry of Environment (which was combined with Local Government and Rural Development at the time) and the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, there was no interest or cooperation whatsoever from any of them. He was eventually told that it was the beginning of an election year so their priority was on the impending elections.
After all, effort to attract the attention of the responsible ministries and their substantive ministers to the research findings proved futile, Sammy Ankrah said he could no longer put up with what he termed ‘useless frustration’ and channelled his time, energy and resources into other important things.
He said Professor Huw Jones could just not believe that such an important research work could be ‘overlooked’ by the authorities of his home country while elsewhere, the authorities themselves would be chasing up the research work and work with the findings to enhance their policy and technological advancement in the sector, for the good of their country.
Sammy Ankrah bemoaned the current effect of galamsey on the country, which he said has resulted in serious levels of land degradation, pollution of water bodies and adversely impacted on flora and fauna.
He said the expectation of government for Ghanaians in the diaspora to come home to invest should not be limited to financial investment only as is mostly the case, but also intellect, technical acumen, industry knowledge and experience among others, which, when properly harnessed, contribute to the development of a nation in ways which fiscal cash cannot equate.
He argued that the financial cost in correcting the current mess created by galamsey activities in the country far outweighs the cost of intervention or preventative measures that would have been adopted by government about nine years ago, had authorities in the relevant ministries paid attention to what he had to offer the country with respect to the research work he had done at the time.
Sammy Ankrah stressed that many resourceful diasporans have had similar and more bitter experiences when they tried to do their bit to contribute to the development of the country, with some of them losing huge amounts of financial investments. He therefore called on Akuffo Addo to truly walk the talk and reverse the trend so that the diasporan community will have the assurance that their ‘return’ to contribute to the development of Ghana will not be in vain. He said the have hope that things will be done differently under the current administration.
On his part, US-based legal expert, Professor Kwaku Asare, argued that the wrong interpretation of the ‘Dual Citizenship’ concept of the law which has led to the creation of twenty seven offices that a supposed Dual Citizen holder cannot hold in the country is enough to discourage any potential diasporan who falls in that category to decide to return to invest in the country.
He assured delegates that they will raise the issue with parliament and other appropriate legal bodies in the country to address the discrepancies so that the nation will not lose out on rich minds and resources deposited in the diaspora.