Diaspora Development Dialogue explores African tourism growth and investment

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The 12th Diaspora Development Dialogue (DDD12) was held in Accra, Ghana, with a focus on ‘how the diaspora can be ambassadors and contributors to unprecedented tourism growth in Africa’.

Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT) and the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) organised the flagship event at the Coconut Grove Regency hotel in partnership with the Ghanaian Diaspora Affairs Commission, the Ghanaian Ministry of Tourism and national partner MDF West Africa.

The event explored key themes including: an all Africa approach to supporting the growth of tourism, how trade and investment can boost the tourism sector and the importance of Ghana’s Year of Return initiative.

Specific sessions also looked at the connection between climate change and tourism, heritage tourism and the role of entrepreneurship in tourism investment.

With Africa increasingly becoming a holiday destination, and tourist numbers surging from 58 million in 2016 to 67 million in 2018, it was timely for DDD12 to be focusing on the role of diaspora as contributors and visitors boosting the tourism sector. African countries who have focused on tourism – such as Morocco and South Africa – are already reaping the benefits, while others are recognising how it can drive growth and sustainable development.

Growth in African tourism of 4.5% per year positions the expanding sector as a catalyst for new jobs, higher GDP, better infrastructure, increased foreign exchange and has a ripple effect on local economies and small businesses.

In Ghana alone, visitor numbers grew from 145,780 in 1990 to 897,000 in 2015, while Ghana has effectively positioned heritage tourism through its ‘Year of Return 2019’ initiative to encourage visits and connection with its diaspora. It has also appointed diaspora ambassadors in the US and UK and run a strong branding campaign. Tourism in Ghana is beginning to see real benefits and coverage from this thrust.

Addressing the event, keynote speaker Akwasi Agyeman, director of the Ghana Tourism Authority, said: ‘We have taken advantage of the Year of Return to do our research. The next step is to facilitate property and land sales. Diaspora want to own a little bit of home.’

Kwesi Quartey, deputy chair of the African Union Commission, also spoke at the event. ‘The aim of the African Union is to come to be seen as a tool by the African people. As something theirs, close to them.’

AFFORD’s executive director Onyekachi Wambu said: ‘For 25 years, AFFORD has been enhancing diaspora contributions to Africa’s development – we’re delighted to be involved with #DDD12Accra and its focus on tourism. DDDs present opportunities to work with governments in Africa and Europe to create a better policy environment for diaspora actions.’

Also making contributions and presentations at the event were:

  • Akwasi Awuah Ababio, from the Diaspora Affairs Office of the President of Ghana
  • Jones Aruna Nelson, Ghana Tourism Authority
  • Odelia Ntiamoah, Ghana Chamber of Tourism
  • Anne Schick, deputy head of cooperation at the Swiss Embassy in Ghana
  • Beverley Okoye, Department of International Trade UK
  • Khady Sakho Niang, president of ADEPT
  • Richard Yeboah, MDF West Africa
  • Yvonne Narki Duwourna, Hollard Insurance Ghana
  • Kofi Ampomah, Afrijourneys
  • Dr Samuel Ackah, University of Applied Science, Netherlands
  • Dentaa Amoteng, GUBA
  • Kwaku Sikahene, Blue Ocean Agile
  • Nelson Amo, Accra Angel Network & Innohub
  • Alex Sackey, Zenith Bank (Ghana)

The event brought together representatives of the African Union, European Union, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West Africa) and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states) as well as senior government civil servants and officials, ambassadors and representatives from national and regional diaspora and migrants’ platforms.

DDD12 aimed to facilitate exchanges between African diaspora in Europe (especially the Ghanaian diaspora) and the intra-African diaspora, governments, institutions and civil society in Africa and Europe.

Khady Sakho Niang, ADEPT president, said: ‘December 18 has been labeled by UN as International Migration Day so it is symbolic to be holding the 12th Diaspora Development Dialogue on this day.

‘DDDs form an important part of ADEPT’s service delivery framework. The fact that this event is the twelfth DDD organised by ADEPT demonstrates the success of the formula that brings together stakeholders from across the board.’

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