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07.03.2013 Diaspora News

Bringing Ghana's Diaspora Home

By Milton Lindsay,
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The newly founded Network for Diaspora Professionals works to build platform to present investment opportunities in Ghana for the country's entrepreneurs living abroad.

As Ghana ascends to the forefront of the economic lions Africa, the country is rapidly becoming an increasingly attractive location to conduct business for the West-African nation's diaspora communities living around the world.

“With the economic crisis here in Western countries, there have been widespread loss of jobs [and] careers,” said Frank Anderson, a Ghanaian who lives in Britain. Ghanaians “are beginning to see the need to look back home.”

This pressure, according to Anderson, has pushed “the diaspora community to create a stronger network within itself.”

Just over a year ago, the Network for Diaspora Professionals (NFDP) was founded to help fill this void by providing a forum for Ghanaians living in Europe to communicate with one another and to assist those entrepreneurs looking to return to Ghana to start a business.

However, it's hasn't just been Europe's poor economic performance in the last decade that has driven Ghanaians living abroad to look at returning home. Anderson, who is the director of communications at NFDP, says that Ghana's economic performance over the past five years has made the country a place where an increasing amount Ghanaians want to return to invest.

Over the past five years or so, major discoveries of oil and other resources “have put Ghana on the global map,” Anderson said. “So, naturally, Ghanaians all over the world are beginning to beat themselves on the chest and say 'I am proud to be from Ghana.' ”

Anderson says that this increase of national pride has encouraged the diaspora community to “make available whatever skills they have to help transform the lives of ordinary people” living in Ghana today.

“The essence of educating is making sure it translates into productivity that affects humanity,” Anderson said. “And so that is what is bringing everyone together.” And the NFDP strives to do just that.

Using social media and other channels of electronic communication, NFDP maintains a strong network of Ghanaians living in Europe and presents opportunities for investment that emerge in Ghana.

The NFDP also organises the Ghana Careers and Opportunities Fair. This annual event, the second of which will take place this summer in London, allows Ghanaian companies to meet members of the diaspora who are looking to return home.

Anderson says these events allow people to “share ideas and bring companies from Ghana and discuss the opportunities that are in Ghana and how we can best take advantage of them.”

Ghanaian companies will be “coming to the fair looking for talented market analysts, IT graduates, [and] accountants,” said Anderson. “Because Ghanaian businesses are expanding and they need competent and skilled Ghanaians who are doing great things across the world to come and work for them in Ghana.”

There are many reasons for the abounding optimism that surrounds Ghana, according to Anderson. But above all else, the government's management of Ghana's oil reserves, discovered in 2007, is one of the developments that have produced the most positivity from outside observers.

Determined to mitigate the deleterious effects that major oil discoveries have had in other developing countries, former Ghanaian presidents John Kufor and John Attah Mills took the policy steps to ensure that oil revenues supported diverse economic growth for Ghana.

Following in Norway's footsteps, the Ghanaian government passed the Revenue Management Act, which specifies what percentage of the oil revenue should go to the annual budget and also sets money aside in a rainy day fund.

These efforts have helped ensure that Ghana has enjoyed diverse economic growth since oil production began in 2010, developing burgeoning real estate, IT and service industries, according to Anderson.

Moreover, Anderson believes that it is Ghana's responsible management of the oil industry that has precipitated the nation's eight-percent annual growth over the past five years and set a model for other African nations to follow.

“A lot of people are beginning to see the Ghana's potential,” Anderson said. Many have begun to call it “a beacon of hope to the whole African continent.”

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