President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the African diaspora to help change the narrative around Africa, which had often been filtered through a lens of disease, hunger, poverty, and illegal mass migration.
“The urgent responsibility we face is to make our countries and our continent attractive for our people to see them as places of opportunities,” he said when he addressed the Young African and Diasporan Leaders’ Summit, being held on the sidelines of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
The President noted that history was replete with several examples of the positive impact of diasporan communities on the growth and development of countries, through increased trade activities, rising investments, and the transfer of skills and knowledge.
Citing the example of China, with an émigré population of sixty million, he told the gathering, which included the US Vice President, Kamala Harris, that the Chinese Diaspora was said to be the 25th largest country in the world, who, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, own assets worth $2.5 trillion.
“When foreign companies, in the late 1970s, reduced their investments in China, it was the Chinese Diaspora that shored up the economy,” he said.
According to the Washington D.C.-based Migration Policy Institute (MPI), half of the foreign direct investment, about $26 billion, that transformed China into a manufacturing powerhouse in the 1990s, originated from the Chinese Diaspora.
President Akufo-Addo stated that harnessing the diaspora’s resources to boost African development was the rationale of Ghana’s initiative of “Beyond the Return”, which, he explained, was building on the considerable success of the “Year of Return,” and the renewed enthusiasm around building Africa together.
He, thus, urged young African and Diasporan leaders to help change the African narrative, which had been characterised by a concentration on disease, hunger, poverty, and illegal mass migration.
“Let us all remember that the destiny of all black people, no matter where they are in the world, is bound up with Africa. We should never forget that famous admonition of the celebrated Jamaican reggae star, Peter Tosh when he said: ‘Don’t care where you come from. As long as you are a black man, you are an African.
“We must help make Africa the place for investment, progress, and prosperity, and not from where our youth flee in the hope of accessing the mirage of a better life in Europe, Asia, or the Americas.
“That is what “Beyond the Return” seeks to do, so we can derive maximum dividends from our relations with the diaspora in mutually beneficial co-operation, and as partners for shared growth and development,” he stressed.
President was confident that the 21st century would witness the consolidation of development, and see the growth of modern, prosperous, technologically advanced nations, within a united Africa to bring dignity and respect to black people all over the world.
“We have done enough talking, and dare I say, we have had enough conferences and workshops. We know what we need to do. It is time just to do it. We have run out of excuses for the state of our continent. We have the manpower, we should have the political will, it is time to make Africa work,” he stated.