Ghanaians in the diaspora can contribute a lot to development now
No new laws or changes in the laws are necessary to enable Ghanaians in the diaspora to contribute to the economic and social development of the country. Not long ago, Ghanaians in Europe and America formed associations of people from their hometowns and neighbourhoods to contribute to education, social and enterprise development at home. Many built houses in their hometowns to indicate that they would return. I do not know whether the practice still continues but I thought the practice indicated commitment to the progress of Ghana.
Today it appears that the practice has shifted to groups who contribute to the progress of the country through commitment to their party. I see nothing wrong with that. But I do not see it right that the laws of the country should be amended to make them enjoy the full benefit of nationals when it suits them. Of course not all of them are thinking of their interests only. But I believe that those who want to assist in national development should come home to help. Ghanaians at home are not as myopic as it may appear from outside. I have many relations in Europe who are full of bright ideas to move Ghana forward. And they are in occupations and areas of great importance to Ghana. I ask them to come down to assist if they are keen and find those of us at home somewhat slow in appreciation of problems and in action. We do not have to wait to experience the situation of two bright sets of Ghanaians living in the bosom of a single state. That would happen if we change the laws to accommodate the bright Ghanaians outside. At present, many Ghanaians in the rural areas who come down to the major towns are in effect aliens who find life difficult and strange. To the normal inhabitants they pollute the environment with filth and noise. We are dealing with the situation by adopting measures to make them integral parts of society. We do not wait to introduce another group who instead of understanding the situation may feel superior and start unnecessary divisions in social cohesion.
What this country needs is not advice but hard thinking and commitment to the highest welfare of the people. In the light of the electricity crisis we had people who advised that we could get over all our problems by going for solar energy. The sun is always there, they argued. They got people in high places involved in their ideas and the revision of policy was considered.
In Nkrumah’s time, in such a situation, I, the ignorant official, would be asked to be secretary of a small group (including those who have the solution) to meet and produce a memorandum. I then would want to find out why if it was so easy as alleged Germany and China were not going for solar energy. The experts in our own ministry would bring out the costs of panels and the like and state the policy requirements of solar energy. They would stress that solar energy would not make the present need of funds unnecessary. The President would then study the conclusion and take the appropriate decision to confirm or modify policy. At present those wise and wild ideas permeate the atmosphere and people get confused.
We have many Ghanaians occupying key positions in industry, finance and administration in foreign lands. We need some of them in key areas of Ghana. But they must decide to come on their own without any special concessions. Those who have been labouring here under the present conditions will not be happy and cooperation would be impeded.
Yes, Ghanaians in the diaspora can do a lot to move the country forward, but they should not return under special conditions which would make those toiling away now with limited understanding and wages unhappy. We do not want or need above all else Ghanaians with special talents and experience from outside. The experience is here and we should tap it.
The experts at home are not that incompetent. The work environment should improve and authority should promote the best and not pamper those who return under special conditions.