A new research by the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University in the USA, has highlighted the contribution of African American migrants to the sustainable development of Ghana and other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
The research, which is the first of its kind was fully funded by the University and was conducted with support from the African American Association of Ghana (AAAG).
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, one of the researchers, Dr Fred Boadu, who is a lecturer at the university, said the research was opening the door to an area which had been completely ignored.
He said the report was the first evidence-based study of the characteristics of migrants and their potential contribution to leadership, governance, and economic development of the African countries they have adopted as home
“We are trying to get the PhD students to start writing dissertations about this and other communities,” he stated.
He pointed out that over 70 undergraduate students have so far visited Ghana for study abroad since 2015.
He said a good number of these students have gone on to graduate schools and taken positions with major donor organizations around the world.
Continuing, the Principal Investigator, Dr Chanda Elbert, who is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications at Texas A&M University said, “Minority contributions to the big debates of our time – poverty alleviation, food security, climate change, and effective leadership and governance will not materialize unless deliberate steps are taken to recruit students with the requisite theoretical and empirical skills to produce evidence-based research in support of contributions by African Americans to leadership, governance, and development policies.
“The fusion of western-style governance and traditional practices raises challenging research questions that have not been addressed,” she stated.
Dr Chanda said the survey on the diasporan community in Ghana highlighted some exciting things about their impact which had never been measured
“Nobody has bothered to measure the impact of African Americans on this economy and when we talk about impact, we are not necessarily talking about investment flow.
“The research found out that they pay higher wages than the average and about 50 per cent of them own homes. Home building itself does not contribute much to the country but the services that it comes with like electricity, water and the rest contributes a lot to the country.
“So if you are to measure their impact, it is huge even from home building. And they are not dependent on government interventions. Not even a single of them enjoys any government give away and everything they have done is from their own resources,” he explained.
Highlighting some of the recommendations of the survey, Dr Elbert, said it was important to make it possible for these migrants to have a say in the local communities since they now live permanently in the country.
“The government must make it possible for them to sit on local councils. The government must open up the local government act to permit participation of these groups in local government decision making. They are here to stay and not foreign anymore.
“In fact, in the survey, we found out that about 97 per cent of them do not intend to go back to the USA. So let us leverage on their experiences to make the communities better,” he stated.
Three main impacts
Commenting on the impact of the research, Dr Elbert, said the survey identified three main impacts.
“First, since there is no study of its kind, we seek to develop the data series over time to support research and policies. Second, the African American community in Ghana can use our results on discussions on how best to grow the backward linkages to U.S. exporting companies.
“A more exciting impact is providing a platform to encourage students’ interest in international development professions. There is a major concern about the participation of U.S. students, especially minority doctoral and Masters’ students in international development research,” she stated.
She said the research would be distributed to all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to support graduate recruitment efforts by these institutions.
Also commenting on the study, a former President of AAAG, Jessica Ayivor, said, “we receive many inquiries from around the world about the population of diasporans in Ghana and I always answer, ‘we do not know their numbers, who they are or what they do’ this is why the study by the Texas A&M University professors is timely and needed.
She said African Americans provided the critical backward linkages to U.S. businesses interested in doing business in Africa because they are able to share local knowledge and how that interfaces with U.S. business practices.
“The study has certainly addressed a major constraint to developing partnerships with U.S. firms. The call for strong research support from institutions such as Texas A&M University will provide the information for making choices on alternative paths to collaborations and partnerships.
“We are excited and support the efforts by the two professors and their institution in making the study possible”, she stated.