Although 2020 was a year filled with global tragedy due to the pandemic, Yofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, believes that the year also ushered in Africa’s decade and that Africa as we know it, is not just its citizens, it is every person of African descent living anywhere in the world. He delivered opening remarks at the maiden edition of the Ghana Diaspora Investment Summit which took place June 23 -24, 2021, in person at the Kempinski Hotel and streamed live on social media platforms. The theme of the event was, ‘The New Normal: Leveraging diaspora investments to build back better.’
The event was organized by Ghana Investment Promotion Centre who partnered with the Beyond the Return Secretariat, Ghana Tourism Authority, Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, Diaspora African Forum, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration, and the Ministry of Information.
The core focus of the 2-day event was to provide an overview of investment opportunities in Ghana, learning from key business players in various industry sectors, encouraging partnerships between the public and private sectors, sharing ideas, plans and policies for support of the business climate, and feedback from diasporans about potential and areas that need improvement.
One of the important pillars of the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative is Invest in Ghana and this event played a key role in supporting that initiative. “This has been a successful summit,” said the CEO of Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyeman, “As the Minister of Information said, it shouldn’t remain a summit, there has to be action after the summit.” Agyeman said that taking advantage of networking at the event provided valuable opportunities that fostered new relationships and established synergies to create new products, services, and programs. He added that he is looking forward to next year when we would hear about the fruits of collaborations that were sparked at this event.
Stories of impact were also shared by diasporans who have made the return to Ghana, started their own businesses and creating investment opportunities for themselves and for others. Neil Oku, CEO of Golden Coast Developers was one of the featured speakers who shared his personal experience on moving to Ghana. “I wanted to feel that I was really going to make a change and that’s what really drove me to Ghana,” he said. Oku left his job on Wall Street to build a new career based on the opportunities he saw. “I came because I felt Ghana was the next wave. Ghana was really moving towards a trajectory…. you don’t have to be a Ghanaian to feel the innovation going on.”
H.E. Ambassador Erieka Bennett, who is Head of Missions at the Diaspora African Forum, shared the importance of remaining connected with diasporans who continue to have a strong interest in visiting, moving to or investing in Ghana. Bennett said that African Heads of State are understanding that in order to move Africa forward we need to move with the diaspora. “Every Diasporan I know, they want to come to Ghana,” she said. “There’s a lady who is 107 years old…. she’s coming to Ghana with her brother who is 100 and some of her colleagues who are 92 and 95.” This woman is a survivor of the Tulsa Massacre in 1921 when white residents burned down a prominent Black business district. Ambassador Bennett is one of the most engaged with the diaspora community when they make their transition to Ghana.
Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, said there are enormous opportunities to grow in Ghana and grow with Ghana. Ofori-Atta returned to Ghana 30 years ago after living abroad and partnered to start an investment bank at a time when resources available for launching a business in Ghana were far less than they are today. In sharing his personal journey, he wanted to narrate that despite the challenges it can be done, and Ghana is a great place to do it.
He has an appreciation of what it takes to make the leap to move to Ghana and urged people in the diaspora to make it a personal decision without influence of politics or others around you. “Look deep down in your heart as to why you are coming,” he said. “It’s spiritual, economic, 400 years…it’s here and we should all come back home.”
By: Ivy Prosper