Celebrating Ghana’s Independence with Ahaspora’s Ghana Action Forum 2022: Bridging Home and Abroad for DevelopmentMar 17, 2022 10:00AM ● By Nana Ama Addo
On the eve of Ghana’s 65th independence, March 3rd, 2022, FunTimes attended Day 1 of the Ghana Action Forum, hosted by Ahaspora at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The Ghana Action Forum, a two-day, in-person, and virtual program, was designed to ‘engage Ghanaians living abroad and at home in an action-oriented, forward-thinking conference to contribute to advancing Ghana’s development’.
Ahaspora, an organization that has been promoting ‘Brain Gain’ in Ghana for 10 years, provides resources to professional Ghanaians returnees, including a listserv for opportunities, monthly social networking events, speaker series, marathons, and fundraising for vulnerable populations. Ahaspora also hosted the Ahaspora @ 10 and Diaspora Drive @ 5 Anniversary Gala on March 4th, 2022. Ahaspora was founded by Christabel Dadzie, a Ghanaian returnee, and the Senior Social Protection Specialist at the World Bank Group.
(Christabel Dadzie, founder of Ahaspora)
Bridging Home and Abroad for Development
This year’s Ghana Action Forum focused on the topic ‘Bridging Home and Abroad for Development’, and featured Ghanaian returnees in varying sectors such as finance, real estate, entrepreneurship, and more. Speakers discussed concepts including the benefits of returning home, opportunities for engaging the diaspora in public and private partnerships, key policy issues towards economic growth, and real-life case studies of investments and partnerships.
The Master of Ceremonies (MCs) of this event were Dziffa Akua Ametam, entrepreneur, media personality, and activist, and Kojo Akoto Boateng, Team Lead at WeComm Agri-Media and Consultancy Limited.
Keynote Speakers included H.E. Mrs. Samira Bawumia, Second Lady, Republic Of Ghana and Global Champion, Clean Cooking Alliance, Akwasi Awua-Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs of the Office of the president of Ghana, Akwasi Agyeman, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority, and Sangu Delle, CEO of Africa Health holdings.
Panelists included Kojo Akoto Boateng, Team Lead at WeComm Agri-Media Consultancy Limited, Yaw Afriyie, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Kofi Anku, shareholder and board member of Ayi Mensah Park, Kosi Yankey, Executive Director of the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEO) and CEO of Nuba Foods and Commodities Ltd, Freda Obeng-Ampofo, Founder and Chief Mixer of Kaeme Cosmetics, Kwaku Nhyira-Addo, Brands Communications Manager at Asaase Radio, Lucy Quist, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, Head of Firm Resilience and the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Technology, Operations and Firm Resilience and author of “The Bold New Normal”, Kofi Dadzie, Digital Economy Programming Function at Mastercard Foundation Ghana, Antoinette Kwofie, Chief Financial Officer of MTN Ghana, Jemila Abdulai, creator of award-winning digital platform Circumspecte, Christabel Dadzie, International Development Specialist and Senior Protection Specialist at the World Bank, Ben Anim-Antwi, founding member of Future of Ghana LTD, Lexy Owusu-Boahene, Managing Director of LX HR Solutions and organizer of Diaspora Drive, Dentaa Amoateng, founder and CEO of Guba Enterprise, Anna-Franklee Ampomah, a consultant in international management, cultural and sports development, and artist, athlete and journalist, William Nartey, Executive Director of the Ghana Nigeria Business Council and CEO of Blackbridge Consulting Group Limited, Apiorkor, poet, writer/author, literary scholar and critic, media practitioner, TED speaker, Activist and Versatile Creative, Adjetey Anang, award-winning film, and stage actor, and DELLA$IE, singer, songwriter, philanthropist, public speaker and CEO of Panalove LLC.
Keynote Speech: Akwasi Awua-Ababio, Director of Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the President of Ghana
During his keynote speech, Akwesi Awua-Ababio noted that the contributions of Ghanaian returnees are a generations-old legacy, saying: “The big six (founders of Ghana) were all educated outside and came back. Kwame Nkrumah returned and started the UGCC movement, and lo and behold, we were able to gain independence.”
A New Frontier for Ghana Panel
During the panel “A New Frontier for Ghana”, speakers Kwaku Nhyira-Addo, the Brands Communications Manager at Asaase Radio, Lucy Quist, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, Head of Firm Resilience, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for Technology, Operations, and Firm Resilience, and author of The Bold New Normal, Kofi Dadzie, Digital Economy Programming Function at Mastercard Foundation Ghana, Antoinette Kwofie, Chief Financial Officer of MTN Ghana, and Jemila Abdulai, creator of award-winning digital platform Circumspecte, discussed reimagining Ghana, in terms of diasporan and local innovations, and strategies to brand both the continent and the country.
In the midst of the success of ‘The Year of Return’, and the ongoing ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative, many Black diasporans, and Ghanaians in the diaspora are looking to Ghana as a nexus for repatriation. However, the developmental issues of the country may cause some local Ghanaians to attempt migrating out to other countries. In discussing Ghana’s identity, Lucy Quist says, “We haven’t sold Ghana to the Ghanaian.”
Jemila Abdulai offers ideas about developing Ghana’s economy, and remarks: “Discover Ghana’s values and create a rallying call around those values.” She also proposes the idea of each region of Ghana being a unique brand, and added: “Institutional support is needed.” In providing additional advice to developing Ghana on an individual and institutional level, Lucy notes, “Vision works when the mindset is aligned with vision” and encourages people to “focus on self-actualization.”
Kofi Dadzie discusses a developmental strategy: “Challenge people to create solutions on national levels (or on the national agenda), i.e. malaria, education, and challenge Ghanaians to target, innovate and solve problems with sustainability. A clear vision of a problem and outcome is needed.” Jemila advises stakeholders to document lessons for future successes.
Other ideas discussed were increased productivity, the impacts of both colonization and globalization on Ghana, and wearing suits vs wearing traditional Ghanaian clothes.
Kwaku Nhyira-Addo says: “Ghana is not 65 years old. Ghana has a long, long history.”
Keynote Speech: Akwasi Agyemang, the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA)
Akwasi Agyemang notes the developments that the GTA has spearheaded, like providing digitalization access for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and more. He encourages communities to undertake entrepreneurship and notes that “Entrepreneurship is not difficult to do”, reminding audiences that people can start entrepreneurship with meager resources.
Trade, Investment, and Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Panel
According to the GIPC, advantageous Ghanaian sectors to invest in include fintech, renewable energy, information and communications technology (ICT), agriculture, and property development. During the “Trade, Investment and SME” panel, panelists Kojo Akoto Boateng, Team Lead at WeComm Agri-Media Consultancy Limited, Yaw Afriyie, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Kofi Anku, shareholder and board member of Ayi Mensah Park, Kosi Yankey, Executive Director of the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEO) and CEO of Nuba Foods and Commodities Ltd and Freda Obeng-Ampofo, Founder and Chief Mixer of Kaeme Cosmetics discussed opportunities for Ghanian diasporans to embark on trade, financing and investments in Ghana.
Yaw Afriyie notes that Ghana is an “investment-friendly country”, while also expressing that Ghana’s infrastructure has multi-regulated issues. Some project-development issues in Ghana, as noted by Kofi Anku, include the security of land title, and the inability to borrow money for projects. He also notes that entrepreneurs are usually the only ones who see the value in an endeavor until it's successful and that issues for Ghanaians in the diaspora to return, live and invest in the country include adequate healthcare access.
Freda Obeng-Ampofo’s advice for entrepreneurs and business owners is to, “Get a good accountant, learn how to do your books, know your niche and why you want to do that niche.” She also says that she remembers the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) as having good entrepreneurship assistance. Freda notes that a lot of assistance goes to small SMEs, but as her business is a medium SME, she finds the assistance applications include a lot of processes for little money.
Freda says it would be helpful for business owners to “Learn to engage, ask questions, and push the government to answer.”
Keynote Speech: Sangu Delle, CEO of Africa Health Holdings
Sangu Delle is a Northern Ghanaian who got a full scholarship to Harvard after a summer internship at the institution. He notes that “11 million Ghanaians are looking for jobs,” and that the country received “$3 million from the Ghana diaspora sent in remittances.” In discussing strategies for Ghana’s development, Sangu advises the country to learn from Israel’s diaspora growth strategy.
He notes some of the issues in Ghana to be solved, which include education access to Northerners, the confrontation of uncomfortable truths, including corruption, and what he describes as “the death of social mobility.” He concludes by quoting Kwame Nkrumah:
“Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility: and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge – a challenge which calls for the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve – to achieve the highest excellencies and the full greatness of a man. Dare we ask for more in life?”
Diaspora Roundtable Panel
During the Diaspora Roundtable panel, panelists Christabel Dadzie, International Development Specialist and Senior Protection Specialist at the World Bank, Ben Anim-Antwi, founding member of Future of Ghana LTD, Lexy Owusu-Boahene, Managing Director of LX HR Solutions and organizer of Diaspora Drive, Dentaa Amoateng, founder and CEO of Guba Enterprise, Anna-Franklee Ampomah, a consultant in international management, cultural and sports development, and artist, athlete, and journalist and William Nartey, Executive Director of the Ghana Nigeria Business Council and CEO of Blackbridge Consulting Group Limited discussed strategies to leverage human capital in Ghana, opportunities for socio-economic development through investments and remittances and charitable opportunities.
Ben Anim-Antwi highlights the power of networking, and Lexi Owusu-Boateng agrees, adding, “You need a network to move here.” Dentaa Amoateng notes: “It’s who you know.” She also advises Ghana and Ghanaian diasporans to research how China developed through their diaspora as a case study for development. Anna says she is here to assist the development of Ghanaian youth, so they will be empowered to stay in the country and evolve Ghana, rather than emigrate out.
Ben says strategies to improve socio-economic development in Ghana may include: “More collective thinking and engagement.” Dentaa says it is imperative to “Make sure the Ghanaian system works,” so that when returnees arrive they will be able to remain and function in the Ghanaian system. Anna advises communities to analyze situations in the country first, and bring people to solve foundational problems, such as sanitation and education, which may include doing research and working collaboratively. She also notes that it seems paradoxical that there are many restaurants in Ghana, with some public schools not having toilets.
William proposes creating cooperatives versus competition, and the need for solutions to issues such as access to finance and the rising costs of commodities like petrol.
Keynote Speech: H.E. Mrs. Samira Bawumia, Second Lady, Republic Of Ghana and Global Champion
HE Mrs. Samira Bawumia notes that strong systems in Ghana are needed to develop diaspora investments and their impact and that digital reforms are progressive in the country. She encourages Ghanaians to bring investments to Ghana.
Ahaspora @ 10 and Diaspora @ 5 Anniversary Gala
During the Ahaspora @ 10 and Diaspora @ 5 Anniversary Gala, held on March 4th at 7 pm at the Fitzgerald in Accra, Ghana, Ahasporans and friends convened for a night of cuisine, awards, and comradery. The outside event dazzled with overhead lights and the electric buzzing of guests, some old friends, and others new acquaintances.
Learn more about Ahaspora here: https://www.ahaspora.com.
Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director, and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Nana Ama tells stories of entrepreneurship and Ghana repatriation at her brand, Asiedua’s Imprint ( www.asieduasimprint.com ).
Read more from Nana Ama Addo:
Afia and Owusu Bonsu, Ghanaian-American Entrepreneurs, On Operating Transnational Businesses During COVID-19
FunTimes sat down with this couple to learn about their struggles and triumphs during COVID-19, as well as multi-cultural solidarity in Philadelphia, and advice for entrepreneurs of the A... Read More »
'Things I Miss About Ghana' from Ghanaians in the Diaspora
FunTimes voyaged to North Carolina, London, and circled back to Philly to discover what Ghanaians in the diaspora are missing from Ghana. Let’s jump right in! Read More »
Augustus ‘Tagor’ Quartey, Ghanaian Businessman, Filmmaker, and CEO of ‘Exklamation’ Fashion Brand on Generating Revenue, Adaptation, and Business Relationships
Augustus Quartey, also known as Tagor, is a Ghanaian businessman, filmmaker, and clothing brand owner with a knack for using creativity to make revenue. Read More »