By Jasmine Griffiths, Head of Strategic Partnerships and Diaspora Relations at the British High Commission
Ghana has captured global attention through the ‘Year of Return 2019’, a major campaign, launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo. The initiative reached out to the global African Diaspora at a poignant (and painful) moment in our history: 400 years after the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, USA, on vessels by English privateers.
My return to Ghana began long before the ‘Year of Return’. is seems to be similar to the reality of many British-born (“second generation”) Ghanaians – born to parents who left their homeland decades ago in the pursuit of opportunities abroad.
The ‘Year of Return’ has energised Ghana’s tourism industry and, through reaching out to the Diaspora across the UK, the US, Europe and the Caribbean, has connected Ghana with a new generation of the global African Diaspora. The volume of visitors and interest holds promise well beyond 2019, and there are hopes it will catalyse even more inward foreign investment. Currently the Diaspora contributes approximately $3.8bn a year to the Ghanaian economy in remittances, exceeding all foreign aid to Ghana (a trend that preceded the Year of Return).
The Diaspora contribute much more than remittances. I can attest to that. After several years of pursuing a successful career in the UK, I – like many others in the British-Ghanaian Diaspora – found myself looking back in the other direction, to pursue my professional ambitions in Ghana.
The UK is well positioned as a partner to maximise the ‘Diaspora dividend’. With approximately 250,000 British Ghanaians living, working and investing in both nations, the UK-Ghana partnership holds promise for mutual gains.
This is a big priority for the UK in Ghana. I head up a new Partnerships Team at the High Commission. Since arriving in February 2019, we have ramped up our engagement with the British-Ghanaian Diaspora, the Government (through partners like the Diaspora Office and the Ghana Tourism Authority) and British institutions to create new partnerships.
We played an important role to support the Diaspora Celebration & Homecoming Summit 2019, an event packed with activities that connected people, sparked conversations and created platforms for thought-leaders and innovators working across Tech, Finance, and the Arts. We have boosted the presence of UK brands, such as The Prince’s Trust International (PTI) who are bridging the gap between education and employment, andwho are keen to do much more to support youth employment and empowerment in Ghana.
Today the UK-Ghana partnership is stronger and more diverse than ever before, just like our Diaspora.
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