Members of the Press,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have gathered here this morning to unveil the pillars of the ‘Beyond the Return’ programme, a successor programme to the “Year of Return” whose benefits and contributions towards the development of the Tourism and Cultural Industry thus far cannot be overemphasized. Before I continue, let me acknowledge the efforts the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Ghana Tourism Authority and all their collaborators are making to implement this flagship programmes of the Government.
Ladies and gentlemen, one cannot speak of Beyond the Return without mentioning the Year of Return in 2019 which was a major landmark campaign targeting the Historical African Community outside our continent. The tourism initiative invited black people from across the diaspora to return to the African continent in 2019 to mark the 400 years since slave ships leaving West African coasts had carried their ancestors to the Americas. By this, Ghana became the beacon for African people living on the continent and the diaspora. The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture led the project in collaboration with the Office of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President, the Panafest Foundation, and the Adinkra Group of USA.
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the press, towards this follow-up project, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has inaugurated a 17-member steering committee, co-chaired by Mr. Akwasi Awua Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, and Mr. Kwame Boateng, Board Member of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA). A 10-year plan to build on the momentum of the Year of Return under the theme "A Decade of Renaissance-2020-2030" has been rolled out to encourage investment to help improve the heritage infrastructure of the country, among others.
Over the next decade, the project seeks to consolidate the gains of the Year of Return and grow tourism in the country, showcase its investment potentials and solidify its diaspora engagement programmes to promote the African Renaissance under the following Seven Pillars:
- EXPERIENCE GHANA - The core of this pillar is the invitation to the Global African family to visit and experience Ghana. Creating memorable experiences through Sankofa and healing journeys, cultural events, festivals, entertainment, nightlife, culinary experience and December in Ghana are key to establishing long-term connections with the Ghanaian and African Diaspora.
- INVEST IN GHANA - This pillar will create special investment programmes and ease of doing business for the diasporan. Key activities will be the Diaspora Investment programmes, Sankofa Savings accounts and Diaspora Housing Schemes.
- DIASPORA PATHWAYS TO GHANA - This pillar will see to the adoption of legal and policy frameworks on visa acquisition (e-visa) and the institution of a diaspora visa. It will facilitate key diaspora pathway programmes such as Citizenship Programmes, Educational and Work Exchanges, Residence and Work Permits.
- CELEBRATE GHANA – This will create a sense of national consciousness anchored on key cultural festivals, media programmes, adoption of contemporary festivals unto the national calendar and promotion of domestic tourism.
- BRAND GHANA –This pillar seeks to promote Ghana as a leading tourism destination and a hub for the African renaissance. It will craft a new narrative on Ghana and strategically promote Ghana to the world.
- GIVE BACK TO GHANA – This pillar will foster a new sense of community service and giving that will create ongoing legacies for the project. Service areas will include tree planting, community clean-ups and adoption of certain community impact projects
- PROMOTE PAN AFRICAN HERITAGE & INNOVATION - This pillar will focus on promoting Pan-African and Ghanaian heritage and developing pilgrimage infrastructure around sites of memory. Development of tourism infrastructure for target sites will be extended beyond the highly frequented sites of Cape Coast and Elmina dungeons to such areas as the Salaga Slave Market in the Northern Region, Pikworo Slave Camp in the Upper East Region, Assin Manso where the slaves had the last bath and the first Auction and branding took place in the Central Region. The Slaves after the branding at Assin Manso head towards the various castles at Elmina, Cape Caost among others. All of which are essential parts of the history of slavery in Ghana.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen and members of the press, we must help make Ghana the place for investment, progress and prosperity, and not a place from where our youth flee in the hope of accessing the proverbial greener pastures, or for “a better life in Europe or the Americas.”
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen and members of the press, may I make a clarion call to the Steering Committee, stakeholders, and all Ghanaians that consolidating the gains after the Year of Return is not just enough, the plans and programmes you put in place for the “Beyond the Return” agenda must seek to not just attract tourists into the country, rather it must be geared towards attracting the best pool of talent from people in the diaspora with African descent to return and contribute their skills, knowledge and wealth to the development of Africa especially Ghana; within these 7 pillars are efforts we are seeking to harness the expertise of Africans across the globe to transform the continent and provide a very welcoming business environment for direct investments into our economies. The Beyond the Return agenda must focus on “brain gain”, albeit the push and pull factors that have been attributed to brain drain in our continent must be consciously addressed by initiatives such as this.
It is worthy of note that, Africans in the diaspora are comprised of professionals who possess the right skills mix constructive to economic development of Africa and are keen to make contributions to the continent. Fields of research and development, commerce, technology, analytics, and industrialization is the way to go.
I believe that this should be a central theme for all programmes and activities that would be designed for this agenda.
Members of the press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is my singular honor to formally outdoor the Pillars of the Beyond the Return programme and hope that these pillars will firmly drive the “Beyond the Return” project to do more for Ghana.
Thank you all for your attention and May God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.