The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey says it is important for government to find innovative ways of ensuring constant engagement with diasporans, just as government did with the ‘Year of Return’ initiative.
Speaking at the Diaspora Business Breakfast Meeting organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) in Accra on Tuesday, November 17, Madam Ayorkor Botchway explored the economic potentials available within the diaspora which needs to be harnessed.
“As you are aware, it is estimated that the number of Ghanaians living abroad ranges between 1.5 million and 3 million. This is an important constituency, which can be tapped into to support sustainable development in Ghana and the vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid. According to the Bank of Ghana, remittances from the Ghanaian diaspora, through formal channels, have averaged US$ 2billion per year in recent times. These figures demonstrate the potential of the diaspora as a source of foreign direct investment, which needs to be harnessed.”
“You will attest to the fact that the celebration of the ‘Year of Return’ has proven that when the diaspora is effectively engaged, the nation derives huge economic dividends.”
“The resounding success of the ‘Year of Return’ in galvanising the diaspora, should motivate us to develop innovative programmes and activities for a sustained diaspora engagement,” the minister said.
This means the follow-up initiative to the ‘Year of Return’ which is ‘Beyond the Return’ is crucial. She, therefore, called on stakeholders to support the ‘Beyond the Return’ programme to make the country an ultimate choice of destination for persons in the diaspora.
“In this regard, the implementation of the “Beyond the Return” programme, which is a ten-year project to grow Ghana’s tourism industry and to showcase its investment potential, should receive the active support of all key stakeholders. The ‘Beyond the Return’ programme should be an avenue to continuously market Ghana, as the preferred destination for the diaspora.”
The minister further noted that the country can take advantage of initiatives such as ‘Beyond the Return’, to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected most world economies.
“Our recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will largely depend on how we can take advantage of programmes such as the ‘Beyond the Return’, to strategically reposition key sectors of the economy, particularly tourism, to generate jobs, create prosperity and economic opportunities for the youth.
Story by Nathaniel Nartey.