THE government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has hinted of steps to kick-start the implementation of a Diaspora Engagement Policy (DEP) by next year.
The policy, when implemented, will create an opportunity for the diaspora to identify and commit their resources to the national development efforts.
It will also promote diaspora investments, trade and tourism for accelerated economic development.
The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Charles Owiredu, said that in a keynote address at the 2018 edition of the annual thanksgiving dinner and awards of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Ghana, in Accra on November 17.
He said the ministry was done with the drafting of the policy but had subjected it to a stakeholder scrutiny to make sure the policy served its purpose after implementation.
“We expect to finish all engagements and implement the policy by next year since the President has declared 2019 as a year of return for the diaspora to the country,” he explained.
Mr Owiredu added that the contribution of the diaspora had become relevant because they had positioned themselves as important economic agents who were contributing to both their countries of origin and their host countries.
He said a World Bank report had indicated that Ghanaians in the diaspora contributed US$2.2 billion to the local economy from remittances in 2017.
That, he said, had made the government value the ideas, skills and contributions of Ghanaians in the diaspora, as much as those living in the country.
“Steps have been taken to leverage diaspora knowledge, experience, skills and financial resources to complement those at home for accelerated national development.
“It is for this reason that the President has created a Diaspora Affairs Office at the presidency. The Ministry has also established a Diaspora Unit and created a Diaspora desk in all its missions abroad,” he added.
Those initiatives, he said, was aimed at reaching out to Ghanaians in the diaspora to participate both in government-related and private sector ventures that helped to create jobs.
Benefits of the DEP
Mr Owiredu said: “The policy will also foster collaboration between relevant state institutions and the Ghanaian diaspora to make informed decisions to return.”
In furtherance, he said a national re-admission framework would be adopted to enable professionals with special skills to be re-admitted into their profession in a relatively short time without compromising quality.
He said there would also be a developed return migration programme to include preparation prior to return to equip potential returnees with information on resettlements and socio-economic opportunities in the country.
He, therefore, reiterated the government’s resolve to further enhance the business environment and make Ghana the preferred destination for investments in Africa.
US investments in Ghana
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, who was recognised as the best government official to have championed the cause of Ghanaian and American businesses, noted that though the relationship between the United State of America (US) and Ghana has been very cordial, it had not yet reflected in the number of US investments in the country.
“The United State of America and Ghana have enjoyed superlative relations for several decades. Regrettably though, the quality of the relationship between our countries has not been reflected in the same magnitude in terms of investments from US to Ghana,” he said.
Mr Kyerematen, therefore, asked for greater collaboration between the government and the chamber to put the US on top of the investment chart in the country. He also advocated the quick establishment of a US-Ghana Business Council.
The council, he said, would become an organised and institutionalised mechanism to promote US investments into the country.
The US business community offered financial support to two charity foundations operating in the educational sector in the country.
An amount for GH¢50,000 was donated to United Way Ghana, a foundation that is providing literacy for young people in inner cities in the country.
Additional GH¢10,000 was also donated to the St. Bakhita Foundations, an orphanage home which takes care of vulnerable children, especially females and provide them with the basic needs to be enrolled in school.
The chamber used the ceremony to recognise the contributions of some individuals and organisations that have helped the chamber in diverse ways in the year 2018.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Alan John Kyerematen, was adjudged the Most Outstanding Government Official, the highest award of AMCHAM, for his contribution to the chamber.
The Deputy Editor of Graphic Business, Mr Charles Benoni Okine, was also recognised for his continuous support in championing the course of AMCHAM to the benefit of Ghanaian and US businesses in the country in the year under review.. — GB