Welcoming members of the Ghanaian Diaspora and other African nationals within the Washington Metropolis to the Ghana Embassy’s Diaspora Professional Summit with the theme “The Role and Contribution of The Ghanaian Diaspora in National Development”, on Friday, July 17, 2015, Ambassador Smith observed that, Global economic events beginning in 2008, have continued to shrink capital for development financing and budget support for developing countries. He added that, “Ghana’s new status as a middle income country at the lower echelon, has resulted in reduced donor support on account of the principle of differentiation”.
Thus, he said, leveraging on the multiple roles of the Diaspora as senders of remittances, investors, philanthropists, innovators, exportable labour and first movers in the growth of important sectors such as tourism and health, and in the development of human capital, can contribute to weaning Ghana off its dependence on aid and development financing, which are waning from developed countries.
Ambassador Smith emphasised the indelible contribution of the Diaspora to Pan Africanism, saying their contribution cannot be overlooked because Government greatly values their ideas and skills just as those living in Ghana, much more than any other natural resource and therefore, considers the entire Ghanaian populace as its basic and first priority.
It is for this reason that the Government is taking steps to leverage Diaspora knowledge, experience, skills, and financial resources to complement those at home for national development, he said.
Ghana’s Ambassador said, the renewed efforts by the Government, has received strong and clear policy directive from President John Dramani Mahama when he directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to mainstream the Ghanaian Diaspora in national development.
All Ghana Missions, he said have been mandated to establish Diaspora Desks to ensure policy coordinated action and provide a structured platform on which the Ghanaian Diaspora could give off their best to national development.
Ambassador Smith announced that for effective Diaspora engagement, a series of events are being planned for effective engagement and reiterated the need for the Ghanaian Diaspora in the U.S. to rededicate themselves to this new initiative. He proposed that the Mission and interested parties form a committee to make the Diaspora engagement process a fruitful one.
Such a Committee, he said will be the main point of interaction and coordinating activities to promote social, economic and cultural awareness among generations of our Diaspora community within the U.S.A.
The proposed Committee, he believed, working in close collaboration with the Embassy, will create a database of business networks that would publish information on relevant organizations, individuals, and investment opportunities.
The keynote speaker, Mr. Adolf Kofi Afful, observed that for a successful engagement of the Diaspora, government need to create a Diaspora Ministry with its own mandate and accompanying budget and authority.
He said the Ghanaian Diaspora’s contribution to mother Ghana through remittances and financial transactions is in excess of $5 billion a year and it is in excess of $7,000 per capita per a year.
Mr. Afful emphasised that the Ghanaian Diaspora on the average contribute $7,000 per a year to Ghana saying, “Ghana’s Diaspora is its largest partner vis-a-vis all its foreign donors combined per a year”.
The Ghanaian Diaspora’s commitment to Ghana is interest free he said, it is not a sovereign loan and no collateral is attached to it.
To create the confidence and trust between government and the Diaspora, Mr. Afful called on government to implement the laws passed by the Ghanaian Parliament to allow Ghanaians in the Diaspora to also cast their vote during the country’s elections.