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TRANSFORMING AFRICA: Strong collaboration, smart policy, sound investments—and a total change of mind-set

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The timing is right: Africa holds enormous potential for rapid transformation. A continent in transition, it is among the world’s fastest growing regions, with a young and growing population in rapidly expanding cities, an improving business environment, expanding Internet connectivity, rising incomes, and shifting consumption patterns.

Despite economic and political challenges, these enduring trends have created an abundance of commercial opportunities across the continent, transforming it into a market and opportunity that investors cannot afford to ignore. In particular, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are seen as key towards transforming the African economy and eradicating poverty.

However, investor activity on the continent has long been constrained by structural obstacles, a lack of risk mitigation mechanisms, and few financing options, all of which inhibit the effective distribution and mitigation of risk associated with large-scale or long-term projects.

But Africa does not give up. Its growing youth are working hard to do things differently, becoming more and more entrepreneurial even as older generation entrepreneurs and politicians have realised that without collaboration, nothing substantial can be achieved.

‘The most important transformation is the transformation of our mindset,” said Ghana’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia at the recent African Transformation Forum (ATF2018), held in Accra and hosted by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), a leading Pan-African economic policy institute, based in Accra in collaboration with the Government of Ghana. “We can do what other countries and continents have done. It is not rocket science; it is not impossible. We must have a mindset of making things possible, not one of thinking that major achievements are impossible.”

Africa does not give up…the CFTA is proof

Africa’s problems, according to many analysts, is simply the inability to work together for a common good. For example, for decades, West African nations have been working to attain a common currency but that is yet to materialise. Politicians have promised collaboration but consistently failed to deliver expected results, leading to the unfortunate conclusion that as long as the continent does not work together, significant changes will remain elusive.

The Continental Free Trade Area agreement (CFTA) is an opportunity to change the narrative. Brokered by the African Union (AU) and initially signed by 44 of its 55 member states in KigaliRwanda on March 21, the CFTA marks Africa’s biggest attempt yet to work together to drive development through improved trade and investment.

The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent. If ratified, the agreement would result in the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022. The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.

Africa’s 11.3 percent intra-regional trade represents the smallest share compared to other continents of the world. Europe’s intra-regional trade stands at 70 percent, just like Asia’s. In North America the figure is 40 percent.

Africa’s sub-regions have the worst indicators than the rest of the world in terms of cost of trade. In ECOWAS and SADC, businessmen need 7.6 and 7.3 documents to export respectively whereas in the EU one needs just 4.5. Whiles you need 11.5 days to export in the EU, you need 27.6 and 31.2 days to export in ECOWAS and SADC respectively. The same situation applies to imports.

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Chairman of African Union, speaking recently at ATF2018, noted that Africa is experiencing greatly accelerated progress towards the economic unification of the continent with the signing of the agreement.

In this year alone, the African Union has adopted the free movement protocol and inaugurated a single African air transport market, which will reduce not only ticket prices but also the need for stopovers on other continents.

“Joining up diffuse, fragmented markets would be a leap forward. Doing this across borders will require governments to work closely with each other, and with the private sector. By creating a highly networked, frictionless marketplace, we will encourage the best products, services and ideas to rise to the top. This will boost the economy as a whole and open up opportunities for women, rural populations and other marginalised groups,” he said.

Ultimately, the goal is to make the continent’s economies bigger and more dynamic, he says, adding that no country or company will lose out in the long term. This, he pointed out, is why business leaders are called upon to be champions of continental integration, first of all by seizing these new opportunities to grow Africa’s firms.

Financing infrastructure and the involvement of business

Business leaders now participate actively and meaningfully in African Union summits. This is based on the understanding that the shared prosperity at the core of the AU’s Agenda 2063 can only happen when the public and private sectors are working closely together.

“The business community should also contribute to holding governments accountable for putting what has been agreed into action, and pushing all of us to do more, and better,” President Kagame said during ATF2018. He was participating in the forum’s closing plenary, a frank dialogue between African Heads of State and business leaders.

Citing Africa’s vast transportation and logistical challenges, President Kagame said much more investment in big, joint regional infrastructure, including digital networks, is required. “Globally, there is no shortage of finance, both public and private. We can attract more of it to Africa, and help close the investment gap, by planning big projects of sufficient size to interest major funds—and enhance the business case.” This kind of activity, President Kagame emphasized, also makes regional integration “tangible and irreversible.”

But, he warned, African governments need to match external capital with African capital. “This can help reduce risk perceptions and ensure we share the upside of profitable deals,” he said, adding that African savings are not being mobilised effectively—an impediment to African capital investments that must be addressed.

To President Kagame, the biggest threats on the continent are also opportunities. With 450 million Africans expected to join the working age population by 2035—more than the rest of the world combined in that time—Africa’s population surge can power economies forward, as long as the growing labor force has the knowledge to perform available jobs.

But his worry is about schools and universities not keeping the pace with technology. “Over half of all jobseekers have few or no skills, while 41 percent have qualifications but no skills for the jobs available,” he said. “The gap is wider still in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

He opined that prosperity rests on good politics and a secure environment, because the transformation agenda requires a broad consensus that is sustained across decades. “Transformation requires leadership and accountability at every level, beginning at the top, but not stopping there.”

A need for banks to aid in development

Countries that are now developed economies have been strategic in their development process. In finance and banking, for example, developed economies incentivised banks to support risky but job creating and sustainable sectors of the economy. This led to banks becoming the agents of growth for decades and, in some cases, over a century.

At independence, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, established banks for specific purposes to aid economic development. For years after he left, these banks continued in that trajectory, from agriculture, housing, commerce, investment, and industry, until the turn of the new millennium when all banks became universal banks, which made them pursue profits to the detriment of economic transformation.

Due to the influence of development partners such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and Western countries, Africa’s developing economies have allowed the banks to engage in ways they see fit without strategic guidance.

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo holds a different view. Speaking at the same Heads of State panel discussion at ATF2018, he expressed dissatisfaction with indigenous and foreign banks in Ghana that make profits and shy away from financing relatively risky ventures that can help transform the country’s economy.

“In our own country, the banks have, in the last 20 or 30 years, been very content to make lots of money and not be particularly involved in the risk-taking that contributes to economic development and transformation,” he stated.

President Akufo-Addo indicated that one of the major constraints to the transformation agenda of the country is access to capital and the cost.

“The foreign-owned banks are the main players in our economy and they have their own goals, which are not necessarily about the development of the country but about the profits that they make. I don’t have any difficulties with people wanting to make money, but I do have a problem with making money in an environment whereby it is not making a significant contribution to the transformation of the economy,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo further observed that the structure of Ghana’s financial and banking sector has perhaps contributed to the lack of desire on the banks to take all the needed investment and financing risk. He added that the state has a responsibility to ensure that good measures are put in place to strengthen indigenous banks to lead the financing of risky ventures in the country.

“Policy making would promote indigenous banks in our country to grow and be strong and take on the role of providing the financial wherewithal for transformation,” he said. “Without having banks that are ready to finance relatively risky ventures both in industrial and agricultural initiatives, it’s going to be difficult to make the transition we are seeking.”

With the continent holding 50 percent of the world’s arable land, more than 30 percent of the remaining minerals in the world, and the youngest and most vibrant population in the world, President Akufo-Addo reiterated there was no reason for Africa to be where it is presently. Fortunately, he said, African leaders are now taking seriously the role that governments need to play in the process of transformation by building strong economies based on sound macro-economics, educational reforms, and skills acquisition.

The President told the forum that his government had placed a priority on “sanitizing the macro-economy” leading to a significant reduction in inflation, interest rates, deficits, and national debt.

“With the management of the national economy, a significant progress has been made in laying the foundation for an attractive investment destination for Ghana,” he said. 

To give or not to give: the tax holiday conundrum

Every businessman or CEO will accept a tax holiday. After all, business owners are constantly on the lookout for possible loopholes in tax codes and laws to avoid payment or reduce it to the barest minimum, especially on a continent where corruption is rife and government officials are notorious for looting the coffers of the state.

In Ghana, tax exemptions granted in 2013 amounted to GH¢2.9 billion; GH¢3.2 billion in 2014; GH¢4.5 billion in 2015; and GH¢4 billion in 2016, according to data from the Ghana Revenue Authority and GCNet.

According to a 2015 report authored by ActionAid International and Tax Justice Network-Africa, ‘The West African Giveaway: Use and Abuse of Corporate Tax Incentives in ECOWAS’, these incentives are mainly granted to foreign companies and cost the economy about US$2.27 billion every year.

Even though government in April 2017 introduced a policy that forced companies to pay duties and later apply for refunds on exemptions, pressure from business groups, especially importers, forced the government into a U-turn five months later.

Despite the availability of such alarming data, business leaders continue to push for favourable incentives. Aliko Dangote, one of Africa’s most celebrated and successful entrepreneurs, urged governments to use incentives to attract businesses that have the capacity to employ in large numbers and guarantee the sustainability of those jobs.

When tax rates are too high, he cautioned, is when people look for avenues to evade tax payments. “The less you charge, the more you can widen the net and collect a lot of taxes from a lot of people,” he said.

He gave an example of the taxes his sugar factory paid to the Nigerian government after the expiration of tax breaks in 2006. Between 2007 and 2017, he said the business paid about US$2.7billion in taxes.

According to Mr. Dangote, his company, the Dangote Group, paid about US$277.78million in taxes last year alone. He said tax holidays gave his companies a lot of room to accumulate cash to reinvest—and benefit people through expansion and new job growth.

Despite his advocacy for tax holidays, Mr. Dangote stated that one of the major factors he considers before investing in any country is the quality and integrity of leadership.

“The first thing I will look at is the president. Is he a man of his word? The two main reasons [African businesses] go bankrupt when they try to go into industry are lack of power and inconsistency in government policy,” he said.

About the ATF2018 and outcomes

The two-day forum offered an opportunity for the private sector and other non-state actors to engage on ways to help shape the course of economic transformation in Africa. The event brought together more than 300 active participants—high-level government officials, CEOs, as well as other leaders from the private sector—to discuss solutions and make commitments towards accelerating job growth, boosting investment, and implementing transformation policies.

Tito Mboweni, a highly respected international banker and economist who also chairs the ACET Board of Directors, opened the forum with a strong call to action for Africa’s political leaders to work together with all stakeholders to keep Africa’s development on track and in African hands.

“I hope you hear us loud and clear,” he said. “We want to collaborate with you moving forward. Help us fight corruption. Help us fight the ‘big man syndrome’. Help us ensure that resources mobilized for Africa’s development go into Africa’s development.”

Mboweni’s strong words echoed the theme of ATF2018: a dialogue for action. In keeping with this central objective, the first day consisted of five concurrent working sessions centered around the Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), which was established after the previous forum in 2016, as a mechanism to foster peer learning and collaboration on transformation challenges and solutions. Ministers who participated in the discussions shared the action plans and other ideas generated from these working sessions with the full Forum on the second day.

Dr. K.Y. Amoako, the President and Founder of ACET, ended the forum by announcing a few outcomes, including a more collaborative approach to enhance the contribution of Africa’s think tanks and the formation of the new African Transformation Leadership Panel to be chaired by Liberia’s former president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Panel will be formed over the coming months, he said, and it will comprise eminent men and women—proven experts and leaders—who will help promote important transformation policies at the highest levels.

“It’s clear that we all have much work to do between now and the next African Transformation Forum,” Dr. Amoako said. “But I think we also know how to move forward so that we are able to get where we want faster, and with lasting results.”

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Business Interview

Expertise and investment– grounds for the “year Of return, Ghana 2019”

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Since the abolishment of slavery in 1833, descendants of Africans, who were uprooted from the continent and forced in labour on sugar and cotton plantains, in Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America have traced their roots back to the continent.

Two African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, were actual destinations for ex-slaves from the Americas who wished to come back home to the continent as well as people rescued by the British Navy from slave ships en route to the Americas. 

Today, there are millions of African descendants who have made Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America their home. Despite that, most of them still seek their roots on the African continent and are becoming more and more aware of their status as members of the African diaspora.

A significant part of the diaspora are also people who emigrated to North America and Europe seeking better lives and education as a result of conflict, poverty, lack of economic activity and political instability. These are emigrants who also do return or seek a return back to their homeland.

Various Governments’ call on the Diaspora

Several presidents of Ghana, from the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a returnee himself who led the fight for independence, have tried to lure the members of the diaspora back to the continent and Ghana. In his maiden independence address, then–Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah sought to frame Africa’s liberation around the concept of Africans all over the world coming back to Africa.

“Nkrumah saw the American Negro as the vanguard of the African people,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., Director of the Hutchins Centre for African and African American Research at Harvard, who first travelled to Ghana when he was 20 and fresh out of Harvard, afire with Nkrumah’s spirit. “He wanted to be able to utilize the services and skills of African-Americans as Ghana made the transition from colonialism to independence.”

Even long before the attainment of independence and Gold Coast becoming Ghana, the political leaders of the Gold Coast reached out to the African Diaspora. There are letters from people like Casely Hayford, who was a major political leader in the 1910s and 1920s, to W.E.B DuBois and to Marcus Garvey.

But for a couple of decades now each president of Ghana has introduced a series of aggressive moves to bring their growing population of the diaspora back home. Even though these moves have been well planned, success has been mixed at best.

In 2000, when John Agyekum Kufuor became the President of the country, he appealed to the members of the diaspora to come back home to help develop the country. Also in 2000, the Parliament of Ghana passed a Citizenship Act in 2000 to make provision for dual citizenship, meaning that people of Ghanaian origin who have acquired citizenships abroad can take up Ghanaian citizenship if they so desire.

That same year the country enacted the Immigration Act, which provides for a “Right of Abode” for any “Person of African descent in the Diaspora” to travel to and from the country “without hindrance.”

At the time, Ghana has undertaken the first transfer of power from one civilian government to another with the ruling party also changing. That significant move positioned Ghana as the beacon of democracy on a continent that was ravaged by wars, poverty, economic paralysis, corruption and mismanagement at the highest levels.

The push to bring back Africans in the diaspora yielded some positives. Some Ghanaians in the diaspora did come home and helped the government undertake and establish some critical governmental and economic institutions.

A quick mention can be made about Nana Osei Bonsu, the current CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) who came back to Ghana at the urging of President Kufuor. His expertise was leveraged to create the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), the first public sector led private equity/venture capital fund in the country.

Also, Rita Marley, the wife of Reggae Legend, Bob Marley, relocated to Ghana and is currently staying in the country. There are also recorded settlements of people from the Caribbean who now reside in Cape Coast in the Central Region and even as far as Techiman, in the newly created Bono East Region.

Then in 2007, the Joseph Project, which was led by the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey when he was the Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, was launched to mark the 50th year of independence, and to commemorate 200 years since the abolition of slavery and to encourage Africans abroad to return.

Similar to Israel’s policy of reaching out to Jews across Europe and beyond following the Holocaust, the Joseph Project is named for the Biblical Joseph who was sold into slavery in Egypt but would later reunite with his family and rule Egypt. It was seen as a medium to bring together, more closely, people in Ghana and brothers and sisters in the diaspora and establish Ghana as the true gateway to the homeland for Africans in the diaspora.

Since then various presidents have used other means to bring back diasporans back home. President John Dramani Mahama and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current president, have granted citizenship to members of the Caribbean community in the country. The current majority owners of Republic Bank come from Trinidad and Tobago, a Carribean country.

These moves are seen as measures to attract more of such personalities and institutions to help contribute significantly to economic growth and development.

Ghana sets the stage for The Year of Return

In September, 2018, when President Akufo-Addo was in the United States, he proclaimed 2019 as the ‘Year of Return’. Officially titled ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019’, the proclamation was read at a ceremony at the United States National Press Club in Washington DC to formally launch a program of activities marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans from Jamestown, Accra to Jamestown, Virginia in English North America in 1619.

But before that in 2013 the United Nations declared 2015–2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent to “promote respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent.” The theme for the ten-year celebration is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.”

The ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ has therefore coincided with the biennial Pan African Historical Theatre Festival (Panafest), which is held in Cape Coast, home of Cape Coast Castle and neighboring Elmina Castle—two notable edifices recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as World Heritage Sites of the slave era.   

The launch, attended by the cream of African American community, including members of the United States Congress, civil rights groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), black clergymen and the business community, was organized by the Ghana Tourism Authority, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Office of Diasporan Affairs at the Office of the President, the PANAFEST Foundation and the Adinkra Group, an event group based in the US.

The Proclamation recognizes Ghana’s unique position as the location for 75 percent of the slave dungeons built on the west coast of Africa and the current President’s policy making it a national priority to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora.

As well as taking note of the fact that “Ghana has more African Americans living in the country than any other African country,” the proclamation also expressed happiness about Ghana’s Right of Abode immigration law that grants freedom to persons with this right “to live and to come and go into and from the country without let or hindrance”. 

Another factor influencing the Proclamation is the 115th US Congress Resolution (HR 1242) establishing the 400 Years African American History Commission to commemorate the anniversary.

Speaking at the launch, President Akufo-Addo recalled Ghana’s early Pan African leadership role and pledged that “under my leadership, Ghana will continue to ensure that our hard won Pan African reputation is not lost. Making Ghana the focus of activities to commemorate the landing of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies in North America is, therefore, a huge opportunity to entrench Ghana’s leadership.”

“In the year 2019, we open our arms even wider to welcome home our brothers and sisters in what will become a birthright journey home for the global African family,” he said.

The President eulogized the role played by the late Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, who, as Tourism Minister in the Kufuor administration, launched the ‘Joseph Project’, symbolizing an arm of brotherhood inviting back home, descendants of Africans who were enslaved and, therefore, find themselves in North, Central and South America.

Mentioning the late minister’s wish to see the ‘Right of Abode’ immigration program become law and his (Jake’s) determination to grant easy visas to Africans in the diaspora, the President declared: “I pledge the determination of my government to grant these wishes.”

Mission of the new Diaspora Affairs in the wake of events

In an exclusive interview with Akwasi Awua Ababio, the Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President (DAOOP), he noted that the Year of Return seeks to make Ghana the focus for millions of African descendants reacting to their marginalization by tracing their ancestry and identity. By this, he said, Ghana becomes the beacon for African people living on the continent and the diaspora.

“Ghanaians in the Diaspora, serve in building bridges between their country of residence and Ghana by providing market access, sources of expertise, knowledge,” he said, adding that the objective behind establishing the office at the Presidency, emphasizes the importance the government places on the contributions Ghanaians in the Diaspora make to the economy.

Established in February 2017, the Diaspora Affairs office’s mission is to efficiently harness, mobilize, and steer Ghanaian resources in the diaspora for political inclusion, economic and socio-cultural development. “Our mission is achieved through a multi-stakeholder coordination approach, involving government ministries, Ghanaian associations abroad, the private sector, non-profit organizations and international organizations,” he added.

With decades of experience working in the diaspora himself, Mr. Ababio, alongside his colleagues who in total have more than 50 years’ experience in the diaspora, is expected to leverage his expertise to oversee the strategic use of a comprehensive database for diaspora resource mobilization and utilization.

He added that this government has appointed more diasporans to strategic government institutions including regulatory authorities, public companies, ministerial positions, agencies and committees than any other. In business, he noted that hundreds of diasporans are coming back home to set up businesses or take strategic positions in existing businesses and seeking to take these businesses further.

“We are gradually importing the attitudinal changes we have experienced in the diaspora here so that people will change their ways. Most diasporans who have returned are already impacting the small communities in which they live. For those who lived well-organized lives in structured and clean environments, they are doing same here and their neighbours, who are indigenes are following suit,” he said.

Stressing his commitment to the cause, he assured that Ghana fully engages the diaspora and leverages the pool of talents and investment potential for the development of the country while employing policies and comprehensive strategies that will exponentially grow Ghana’s diaspora remittances beyond the currently stated US$3billion.

He pointed out that the office has reviewed the old Diaspora Engagement Policy, and transformed it into a comprehensive document which is currently being reviewed by stakeholders such as diasporan associations in the UK, USA, Europe and other parts of the world, missions and trade unions. The policy document, he said, was aimed at encouraging Ghanaians in the diaspora to bring their technical skills, money and investment opportunities back home to complement growth and development.

“The policy document covers all aspects and concerns by diasporans and will become the guiding principle and the policy that every government will work with relative to diasporans affiliated to Ghana. This document will harness the potential out there as willed, therefore, take this nation forward,” he added.

Stressing government’s recognition of the contributions of Ghanaians in the diaspora, he pointed out that having this policy document is a major shift in the approach to the members of the diaspora. “This time, we are changing a lot of things. Almost every initiative we are undertaking this year in respect of the Year of Return is going to be institutionalized and held either yearly or every two years. For instance, the Homecoming Festival will be held every two years even after 2019.”

Since the launch of the Year of Return, Mr. Ababio added that his office has received well over 100 proposals from individuals and corporate organisations to organize events around the Year of Return. “This means there is a bigger impact we are looking at here when it comes to tourism and business development. Since the announcement by the president, hotels have seen significant bookings with a lot of people coming to Ghana,” he averred.

Impact of The 2019 Homecoming Summit

In July, the Diaspora Affairs office organised Diaspora Celebration and Homecoming Summit to lure investors who will help the state realise the Ghana Beyond Aid vision. Mr. Ababio shared his optimism about the enormous impact the celebration and summit would have on the country’s GDP.

With more than US$3billion remitted to Ghana annually from around the world, Mr. Ababio noted that government intends to reduce the cost of remittances by some 9 percent in the coming years so as to attract more remittances from abroad to fuel economic growth.

The global average cost of sending US$200 remained high, at around 7percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the World Bank’s Remittance Prices Worldwide database. Reducing remittance costs to 3 percent by 2030 is a global target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10.7.

He explained that government is working with the African Development Bank and the World Bank to craft measures to make the cost of remittances cheaper for Ghanaians abroad. “When the figure comes down we believe it will encourage more remittances. We want it to come down by 8 to 9 percent. The World Bank, however, have a rate they are working with,” Mr. Awuah-Ababio stated.

The four-day event recognized and celebrated the immense contributions to nation building by the Ghanaian Diaspora. It also highlighted past contributions but focused on present contributions as well, whiles furthering the advocacy for political, economic, and all other systems and policies that would facilitate future contributions by the diaspora.

“This event addressed how economically, we could take advantage of people from the diaspora. A gentleman who attended the meeting approached me afterwards to discuss how to establish a medical facility in Ghana. His dad worked decades as a medical doctor in Europe. This is an example of someone taking advantage.

“When we talk about the diaspora, we are talking about people who can help us move Ghana Beyond Aid. Just look at how much they remit annually. We even have young people who do not remit money but have ideas that can help transform the economy based on their experiences living outside Ghana,” he stressed.

He assured that Ghana has prepared the grounds well enough for the diaspora to come in and make the most of the opportunities here. “We know the diaspora can be helpful because we cannot continue to depend on aid. This year’s PANAFEST comes with an investment forum to attract investors,” he revealed.

Strategic Partnerships to champion the course

The Diaspora Affairs office has formed crucial partnership with other state institutions, regional, district and local assembly institutions, Ghanaian associations abroad, international organisations and NGOs to promote the interest of Ghanaians in the diaspora, explore more meaningful ways the diaspora could contribute to Ghana’s socio-economic development and creating awareness about the negative effects of irregular migration.

Mr. Ababio explained that there is a steering committee that coordinates all activities in relation to the diaspora. This steering committee has him as head or chairperson and well represented by the private sector, tour and tourism representation, CSOs, diasporans and others.

“This committee brings people into meetings for purposes of organising events and summits. Then there is an operational committee which has all government representatives including ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Tourism, Finance and others. This is for purposes of engagement and organisation,” he detailed.

Due to the extensive nature of operations which take planning to the local level, assembly men and women and chiefs are all engaged. “During PANAFEST, we got the active participation of the Chief of Assin Manso. In Cape Coast, the Chief is a key consultant in making sure PANAFEST was a success,” he noted.

World’s traffic soon to be directed to Ghana

Apart from the huge numbers who will be coming through the various entry point, the countless activities will generate significant jobs and revenues for the people of Ghana. “For example, the global pageant, Miss Heritage, was switched to Ghana as host country due to the Year of Return activities. What we want to do is direct the world’s traffic to Ghana so that our black family will have the rebirth and reconnection with the motherland,” he concluded.

In the upcoming months, various events shall be holding to continue The Year of Return celebration and so everyone can join in the festivities after carefully identifying which of the events suit their time.

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