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Panel Discussion: Diaspora, Transnational Belonging and Giving Back

source In recent years, there has been increased recognition of the potential of migration in stimulating development in countries of origin. Migrants living in diaspora can contribute greatly to the development of their countries of origin in many ways; through remittances, diaspora entrepreneurship, transfer of skills and knowledge as well as competencies, which can have a positive impact on the national economic growth. Research suggests that diaspora identity is characterized by a transnational sense of belonging with attachment and commitment to both the homeland and the country of residence. This panel discussion proposes to explore what drives diaspora members’ generosity and passion for their countries of origin, how belonging is nurtured across continents and generations and what “giving back” looks like in practice.

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Patrick Awuah is the founder and president of Ashesi University, a private, notfor-profit institution praised as one of Ghana’s Patrick_Awuahfinest institutions of higher learning. Patrick left Ghana to study in the United States of America in 1985. While abroad, he worked as a Program Manager for Microsoft. After living in America for almost two decades, he returned to Ghana in 2001. In recognition of his service to Ghana, Patrick was awarded Membership of the Order of the Volta in July 2007. The Order of the Volta is one of Ghana’s highest awards, given to individuals who exemplify the ideal of service to the country. He has won many prestigious international awards including the MacArthur Fellowship and the McNulty Prize. In 2015, Patrick was named one the 50 greatest leaders in the world by Fortune Magazine. He has also twice been recognized by a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of Ghanaian CEOs as one of the ten most respected CEOs in Ghana.

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Christabel Dadzie works as a Program Specialist in the Social Protection and Labor Global Practice at the World Bank Group. Christabel E. DadziePrior to joining the Bank, she has worked with for USAID and within the UN system. In 2011, Christabel, founded Ahaspora Young Professionals (Ahaspora – “Aha” is a Twi (Akan) word for “Here” and “Spora” is a stem of Diaspora.), a group of young, Ghanaian professionals who have lived or been educated outside Ghana and have returned home to make a difference. Ahaspora now counts over 1200 members, who have pledged to use their knowledge, skills, and resources to give back to their Motherland Ghana.

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Arnold Sarfo-Kantanka is an entrepreneur and youth advocate. He is Chair of the Future of Ghana project and founder of multiple Arnold Sarfo-Kantankaaward winning company Me firi Ghana & sister charity WAM Campaign. In 2010, Arnold who was born, raised and lives in the UK, launched the WAM (“What About Me?) campaign, which connects young Ghanaians in the diaspora to selected grassroots organizations in Ghana. The objective of the WAM Campaign is to support the educational development of children and young people through diaspora volunteering. Arnold’s other pioneering initiative, The Future of Ghana is an annual project dedicated to showcasing, nurturing and mobilizing Ghana’s talent in Ghana and abroad for the development of the country. The impact of Arnold’s work has permitted him to represent Ghana during the 2013 World Economic Forum and speak on platforms such as TEDx SOAS. Arnold was invited to Buckingham Palace to meet HRH The Queen of England and Prince Charles for his contributions to the Ghanaian community.

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Graham is a lecturer, writer, blogger, and DJ on Ghana’s growing arts scene. Born in London and raised between there and Cape Kobina GrahamCoast, he is a University of London School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) graduate. As a DJ, he was part of London’s Amplified collective, with whom he supported artists like Erykah Badu. Moving from London to Accra a decade ago, Kobby has since experienced everything from being a security expert and heading a market research department, to being a journalist with Ghana’s biggest media group and becoming one of the first people paid by the Ghanaian government to work in social media. Deeply passionate about popular culture, counter culture, and writing, he currently teaches Africana, communication and critical thinking courses at Ashesi University. He is also co-editor of nKENTEn – an experimental online magazine that exists at the intersection of Ghanaian popular culture and politics – and the former editor of DUST: a pioneering Ghanaian magazine that combined creativity with social awareness-raising content.

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10.00 – Start  Opening and welcome remarks by Ambassador Leslie Kojo Christian, Chief Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFARI)  

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Video  Presentation on IOM’s Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) and Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals (TRQN) Programmes, Daniel Sam – IOM  

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Video  Presentations by panel members:  Patrick Awuah  Arnold Sarfo-Kantanka (by Skype from the United Kingdom)  Christabel E. Dadzie  Kobina Graham

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13.00 – Closing and light lunch

Introducing… Patrick Awuah

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I love finding out about the living legends of Ghana who have made tremendous moves in the world, and this gentleman is no exception. Mr Patrick Awuah grew up in Accra, and left Ghana in 1985 as a teenager to pursue greatness in the United States. Graduating from Swarthmore College (USA) with an engineering degree in 1990, Mr. Awuah managed to gain a spot working for Microsoft in software design, and shot with speed to the heights of the company, becoming a millionaire before the age of 30! That would be a story which would satisfy many of us. But Mr. Awuah didn’t stop there. He had a dream. He saw an issue back home in Ghana, and it itched him that something had yet to be done to resolve it…



He was a Black Star, flourishing in the land of the Stars and Stripes, living the American Dream. And yet when his eyes wistfully cast upon the situation back in Ghana, he was troubled. He once remarked that “While I was at Microsoft, the annual revenues grew larger than the GDP of the Republic of Ghana.” Incredible! So he begun to ask himself what was the source of this problem? How could it be remedied? The answer, he believed, was education.

He believed that too many educational establishments in Ghana were force-feeding their students information, causing them to merely try to remember things by heart, rather than build up and develop the critical thinking necessary to be innovative. He said in an interview with CNN early in 2013 that “The world needs to change in this way and I strongly believe that people like me who have had the privilege of a great education need to be part of the solution; that I need to be really actively involved in helping to drive this change in Africa so that 30, 50 years from now, the world will be a different place for all people of African descent in the world.” This observation led to Mr. Awuah creating the Ashesi University in Accra in 2001.


Patrick Awuah quit a multi-million dollar job with tech powerhouses Microsoft in order to put all his energies into this gargantuan pursuit. That’s faith and courage right there! When people ask whether that could have potentially been a very stupid move, Mr. Awuah reminds them of a quote by Goethe – “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it — begin it now!” And Mr. Awuah has weaved his magic, utilising his own money, donations and tuition-fees to make his project blossom from a small rented building, into a live-and-breathing multi-building complex which promises an excellent learning environment to help bring the best out of some of Ghana’s brightest minds.

Ashesi means ‘beginnings’ in Akan. Mr. Awuah is doing a great job in giving a new generation of young Ghanaians the best beginning on their journeys to becoming future history-makers.

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