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08.03.2005 Diaspora News

Govt urged to utilise Ghanaian Diaspora for national devt

By Clemence Okumah, GNA Special Correspondent

Cambridge, United Kingdom, March 8, GNA - Mrs Becky Ayebia Clarke, Director of Ayebia Literary Agency and Publishing, London, on Sunday called on the government of Ghana to establish effective structures to enable it to tap the resources of the 'Ghanaian Diaspora' for national development.

She noted that due to the lack of official arrangements in the Diaspora, Ghanaians had tended to organise themselves around identity structures involving hometown, ethnic groups and alumni associations as a way of building capacity to contribute to the development of their country and Africa.

Mrs Clarke was speaking on: "Building Africa Self-Determination in Partnership with the African Diaspora: Young Africans Role in the Diaspora in Narrowing Africa's Skill Gap", at a function organised by the Cambridge University Ghanaian Society to commemorate Ghana's 48th Independence anniversary, in Cambridge.

She said the Government had identified the Ghanaian Diaspora as a potential source of funds for the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, the policy framework for supporting growth and poverty reduction in the short-term.

Mrs Clarke said Diaspora is Africa's biggest 'aid' donor adding that remittances, one element of this diverse capital pool, had become highly visible and beginning to form a key discourse of development, with some even calling it a 'new' paradigm of development. She stated that according to the 2004 World Bank Global Development Finance, "at 93 billion dollars, remittances now exceed the flow of aid, and are second only to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a source of external financing.

"In the African context, over nine years, 28 billion dollars was sent through the Western Union to Nigeria alone. The Bank of Ghana tracked 1.3 billion dollars between 2002 and 2003. African and Diaspora Partnerships are increasingly coming to the realisation that the Diaspora is Africa's biggest 'aid donors."

Mrs Clarke said Africa was blessed with a complexity of creative and natural resources that function to benefit the whole community. She noted that in contemporary times, political freedom had become synonymous to economic independence and asked Ghanaians to consider freedom from colonialism as a means to economic empowerment.

Mrs Clarke quoted Dr Kwame Nkrumah as saying: "........ If we are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefit of Africa's rich resources, we must unite to plan for our total defence and full exploitation of our material and human means, in the full interest of all our people. To go it alone will limit our horizons, curtail our expectations and threaten our liberty."

She said the Ghanaian Diaspora had identified education as the foundation for the socio-economic and political development of Ghana. Mr Clarke said Faculty UK, an association of Ghanaian Academics and Professionals in the UK, has therefore, been formed to contribute knowledge and expertise to the enhancement of higher education in Ghana and advise on financing higher education in the country and the Diaspora among other issues.

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