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GHANA: Special visa for Africans in Diaspora *LINK*

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Accra, Nov. 22, GNA - Beginning from 2007, Ghana would start issuing special visas to Africans in the Diaspora to give them free access into the country without needing ordinary visas anytime they had to come, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, announced on Tuesday.

He noted the Diaspora visa regime was different from dual citizenship, which was also in the pipeline, saying that while the Diaspora visa was available for all Africans in the Diaspora, the dual citizenship was for those who would make long-term investments. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey made the announcement at a day's seminar for a 50-member delegation from Chicago, United States, on a fact-finding visit to the country.

The delegation, led by Professor Ken Akainyah, a Ghanaian professor at the Kennedy King College in the Chicago, Illinois, included lawyers, bankers, musicians, IT professionals, parliamentarians and others interested in areas such as automatic banking, agriculture, education, political planning and consultancy.

"The Diaspora visa would allow you our brothers and sisters coming from the land of your slavery free entry into our country without needing a visa anytime you have to come," the Minister told the delegation.

He said the Diaspora visa regime formed part of the Joseph Project being spearheaded by Ghana for Africa to bring back the descendants of Africans who were taken to the West during the slave trade era.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey noted that Africans in the Diaspora had acquired such depth of skills while Africa suffered from brain drain, saying that the Joseph Project was designed to return some of the skills and resources in the Diaspora for the development of the Continent. He pledged that there would be non-interference of politicians in the activities of the Project, saying that the Government had started it but would hand it over to civil society to ensure that it was not affected by change of government.

The Joseph Project, dubbed "Akwaaba Anyemi", meaning 'Welcome Sibling" would take off on August 23, 2007 with "The Healing", comprising an expiation and forgiveness ceremony, as well as a healing concert.

Mr Yoofi Grant of Databank noted that though the African-American Market contributed more than 300 billion dollars annually to the American economy, not even a dollar of that amount went to develop Africa.

He said for that matter a group of African-Americans had set up a 50 million-dollar fund to begin the process of channelling some of that huge amount into Africa.

Mr Grant noted that although Africa presented the best opportunities for investment in the world today, very little came to the Continent in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Mr Daniel Hagan, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), exports from Ghana to the US enjoyed tariff holidays and, therefore, stood the chance of competing favourably with those produced in America.

He, therefore, urged them to establish factories, especially in the free zones enclaves and enjoy less expensive labour and gain maximum returns by accessing the AGOA initiative. 22 Nov. 05

Trinidad and Tobago News

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