THE HON MINISTER
MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS OF STATE
MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
BOARD MEMBERS OF THE GHANA TOURISM AUTHORITY
DIRECTORS AND HEADS OF AGENCIES OF THE MINISTRIES
DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
MEMBERS OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE- “BEYOND THE RETURN”
OUR FRIENDS FROM THE MEDIA
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
It’s a great pleasure to be at this important gathering on the ‘Beyond the Return’ Initiative, which seeks to build on our competitive edge in attracting and building a mutual relationship with the African diasporic community. The ‘Beyond the Return’ Initiative is set to build on the gains made from the highly successful ‘Year of Return’ campaign.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative, is an opportunity that allows for cross-fertilisation of ideas, policy directions and implementation of strategies to make Ghana more attractive as the destination for tourism, trade and investment on the African continent, especially for the African diasporic community.
The African diasporic community who dream of returning to Africa and having a home here on the continent are confronted with the uncertainty of which African country they could call ‘Home’.
This sad reality, has not stopped Ghana from showing leadership in positioning the country as the Homeland for returning diasporans. Over the years, Ghana has received personalities like W.E.B. Dubois, Maya Angelou, Frantz Fanon, Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King, Mohammad Ali, Malcolm X and Benjamin Zephaniah. Indeed, Rita Marley, Louis Armstrong, Steve Harvey, Isaac Hayes and many others who have all traced their roots to Ghana.
It was therefore, not surprising that the ‘Year of Return’ Initiative, became a momentous and trailblazing effort at diaspora engagement on the African continent in recent memory.
His Excellency President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo on September 20th 2018 in Washington D.C., U.S.A, declared 2019 as the ‘Year of Return’ to commemorate the 400th anniversary since the arrival of the first twenty African slaves to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The ‘Year of Return’ provided Ghana with the unique opportunity to establish the country as the preferred destination and homeland for people of African descent globally.
Distinguished Guest, on November 27th 2019, President Akufo-Addo also conferred Ghanaian citizenship on one hundred and twenty-six Diasporans. On that august occasion the President stated as follows: “we recognize our unique position as the location for 75% of the slave dungeons built on the West Coast of Africa, through which the slaves were transported. That is why we have a responsibility to extend a hand of welcome back home to Africans in the diaspora”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghana today has become more attractive than ever before to tourists and investors from the diasporan community and all over the world. They have embraced what we have done with the ‘Year of Return’ commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and celebrating African resilience.
It is in synergy with the ‘Year of Return’, that we have initiated the ‘Beyond the Return’ project spanning a ten-year period 2020-2030 to consolidate the gains made in 2019. This 10-year plan under the theme, “A Decade of Renaissance-2020-2030”. The very premise of this Initiative is to create a mutually beneficial co-operation with the African diasporic community.
In the light of this, Ghana is developing a Homeland Return legislation to facilitate various forms of migration and integration into the country. Ghana as the leader of Pan-Africanism through the Homeland Return Act, will offer opportunity for citizenship to our brothers and sisters. They will be embraced for the positive values they embody and there will be equal and full opportunity for them to contribute to all aspects of civic and political life, to the ultimate benefit of the country and our diaspora citizens.
At the start of the New Year, we had many plans to jumpstart Beyond the Return including our participation in the New York Travel Show. We had plans to travel and be featured as part of the annual Memphis in May festival in the United States, but unfortunately, COVID-19 struck.
As we are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought lifestyle-shattering protocols and direct impact on national economies. In terms of the tourism and hospitality industry, the UNWTO reports that the potential impact shows that this year there will be 850 million to 1.1 billion fewer international tourist arrivals, US$910 billion to US$1.2 trillion loss in export revenues from tourism and 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs being at risk.
Despite what is happening in the World, our global African family, continues to express their desire to come home to Africa and to Ghana. We are ready to welcome you and provide the most positive experience as you make the decision to connect with Ghana through travel, investments, community services, business collaborations and repatriation.
During the Year of Return, we received feedback on the issues of concern to our diasporic community in planning to return to Ghana. We also heard from our fellow Ghanaians about ways we could work towards integrating them in our activities to create a more inclusive environment for both the diaspora and Ghanaians. We have heard you, and various stakeholder institutions are working diligently to incorporate all your suggestions.
Beyond the Return is a 10-year initiative that will serve to strengthen ties with our global African diaspora. Each of the 7 pillars being unveiled today, touches on the many areas that are key to developing Ghana and providing an environment that supports the diaspora. In developing the pillars for the Beyond the Return, we took into consideration the many questions, concerns, and feedback we received from the diaspora and local communities during and after the Year of Return.
Africa is the future and building it will be a collaborative effort between continental Africans and the historical diaspora. Together, we can shape the future and revitalize our continent into the greatness it was destined for. Through establishing business opportunities, celebrating culture, learning our history and heritage, providing innovations, giving back to our local community… we rise and change the narrative of Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for joining us on this day and look forward to the next decade as we experience the African Renaissance, together.
May God bless us all and Our Homeland Ghana!
LONG LIVE THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
LONG LIVE AFRICA