The history of Ghanaian migration dates back to the pre-colonial era. That trend has continued to the present day, where Ghanaians can be found in nearly every part of the world, predominantly in Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, U.K, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States of America.
Recent estimates show that there are between 1.5 million and 3 million Ghanaians living outside the country. They include students who have completed their studies, workers who are accruing new competencies and experience, and second and third generation migrants settled into the destination countries. From those destinations, they continue to contribute in diverse ways to the home country. According to the Bank of Ghana, in recent years, remittances from the Ghanaian diaspora into the local economy have been at an average of USD2 billion annually. In addition, Ghanaians in the diaspora help transfer skills, technology and investments to the country and participate in several, impactful philanthropic activities.
Ghana is mindful not only of the contributions of its diaspora but the effects that many countries have felt from effectively leveraging their diaspora in their development effort and has in recent years, sought to enhance its engagement with the diaspora. The “Year of Return,” announced in 2019, brought over a million visitors, mostly from the African diaspora to the country. In the following year, it launched “Beyond the Return,” a ten-year programme to consolidate the gains from the Year of Return into enduring economic and social legacies. While the first year of implementation was dominated by the global pandemic, the Diaspora Relations Office, which is coordinating it, says it is on course to achieve its goals. Beyond the Return is built on seven key pillars that will anchor the comprehensive approach to the vision behind the initiative. Among these are Experience Ghana, Invest in Ghana, Give Back Ghana, Brand Ghana, and Celebrate Ghana. Others are Promote Pan African Heritage and Innovation and Diaspora Pathway to Ghana. The country is hoping to leverage the diaspora into a source of investment and expertise to help achieve its economic objectives.
The government intends, through its Diaspora Engagement Policy (DEP), to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between Ghana and its diaspora population. The key objectives of the policy are to enhance the diaspora homeland relationship, advocate for reviews of legal instruments to extend rights to the diaspora, promote social security portability for diasporans moving back to Ghana, leverage investment benefits, and mobilise remittances back to Ghana. In essence, the Diaspora Engagement Policy seeks to harness the human and material resources of the diaspora for the socio economic transformation of Ghana. The Policy is also consistent with the trend in many countries where governments are making conscious efforts to tap the development potential of their citizens abroad. It seeks to facilitate transnational networks, increase in-bound tourism from the diaspora, streamline return and reintegration procedures, creating linkages between second and third generation diasporans and Ghana. It undoubtedly presents an opportunity for the mutual benefit of Ghanaians at home and members of the African diaspora.