As part of the black history month celebrations in October, The Future of Ghana (an organisation which was established to organize, mobilize and advance the education & training of second generation Ghanaians living in Ghana and the Diaspora community), organized a two day forum at the House of Commons hosted by MP Diane Abbot, following their theme of engaging second generation Ghanaian Diaspora on identity, international development, migration and Diaspora engagement at which Mr. Bediako was a speaker.
In the quest to get to know more about him, understand his roles as an ambassador and how Ghana could attract its people in the Diaspora back to their roots, we caught up with Mr. Bediako via Skype for a quick chat.
Naya: It is an honour having you for this brief discussion. Before we start, I would personally like to know how you would describe yourself as an individual and also what your roles are as a youth ambassador.
Jake: Thank you Naya. I would describe myself as diligent and would like to think that I am passionate about Africa and the African and want to be part of the shapers of the global narrative of Africa. As a youth Ambassador for the Diaspora, I’m primarily looking at helping young Ghanaians in the Diaspora engage with their roots (Ghana), create avenues and force collaborations for partnerships which would allow the youth in the Diaspora engage with their local counterparts and basically work together to create development.
Naya: The president has put new measures in place to fund entrepreneurial ideas and initiatives (i.e. the $100million NEIP fund) . Do you think it could attract them to their roots to start businesses and be of benefit to the youth in the Diaspora in anyway?
Jake: Of course! First of all, we [Diaspora affairs office] work very closely with the NEIP and the ministry of business development. We work directly from the Diaspora Affairs at the Office of the president, headed by Akwasi Awuah Ababio and then there is the Deputy director Nadia Adongo Musa and me, the youth Ambassador; together with other admistrators who make everything possible. Our work is basically to highlight the facilities and opportunities that work with government agencies and so I would like to fully describe us as a concierge service for people coming from the Diaspora…NEIP offers lots of consulting and business analysis so young people can literally bring on their businesses on board to check its viability even before they launch them; and they have other products and services that we’re trying to point in the direction of the youth in the Diaspora so they can get the help that they need…
Naya: … Are you trying to imply that this fund has been made available to the Ghanaian youth here in Africa and abroad?
Jake: Yes. Yes… [Giggles] not implying, stating!
[Both burst into a short laugh]
Naya: You’re not based here in Ghana are you?
Jake: I’m based in Accra. I do travel quite frequently because of the responsibilities associated with my job but I’m based in Accra working out of the office of the president.
Naya: okay so given the current economic state of the country, what measures does the government intend on putting in place to create opportunities which will make the state attractive enough to attract the youth in the Diaspora to relocate back home or encourage them to visit their roots?
Jake: we are actually looking at the Diaspora to come and help Ghana develop to the degree that we need it to. Ghana is missing out a lot on its human resource with the brain drain that has happened over the decades in our nation’s history. However, there are other people in Ghana working to make Ghana better economically and in all other ways. So it’s not really about creating a paradise for the people in the Diaspora to come home and enjoy but rather a call to action, a call for the Diaspora to come and say “let’s invest in the future Ghana needs to have so we can reap the dividends later…
Naya: but before someone would move to down here there should first of all be that “pull” factor…
Jake: … Exactly! That is why the president made the first move in setting up the Diaspora affairs office at the presidency to essentially remove the roadblocks and the discouragement which initially blocked people from coming back home. So we understand and follow up on issues passionately because like I said earlier, we play the role of a concierge service which gives people in the hope knowing that they are being represented by people with their interest at heart because we know what it is like to be on the other side.
Naya: How are the youth specifically in the U.K being trained to understand their cultural values and norms in order to properly identify themselves well with the traditional Ghanaian community?
Jake: From limited experience at the U.K, I can say that there is a renaissance of the African culture across the west. We have African culture being projected everywhere from movies, music, arts, magazines, in the introduction of African studies in our schools, among others. This new appeal of the African culture is causing young people in the West to seek it out for themselves. A typical example is the work the ‘Future of Ghana” organisation has been doing to galvanize young people in the Diaspora to understand and embrace their true heritage.
Naya: finally! With your role as a youth Ambassador, what new events have you/ are you going to organize in order to allow the Youth in the Diaspora contribute to the happenings in their homeland or even create an avenue for socialization between the Ghanaian youth in Africa and the Diaspora?
Jake: That is something I’m very passionate about! I think the fuel of our Generation is our networks because that is what peaks our interest; even on social media all we do is about networking. So that is something that is a priority of mine and so far we’ve been able to organize for the president to attend some University Summits like at the Cambridge Union last year, He also spoke at a special session at the LAC Africa summit, we also organized a youth forum in Canada where we spoke about opportunities and different things available for the Ghanaian youth in the country and also creating opportunities for them to network over there. In December we have quite a number of events lined up for socialization and networking like the Diaspora drive event coming up on the 20th of December 2018 at the Marriott hotel, Airport city-Accra. We’ll be highlighting the success stories of young people who are making an impact in the nation.
Naya: interesting… Thank you Jake!
Jake: My pleasure.
Jake Obeng Bediako is the Youth Ambassador for Diaspora Affairs at the office of the President. Prior to his appointment, he was a successful Afropolitan blogger [@thedebonairdisciple] and Curator-in-Chief of a community of young passionate millennials.
By: Nana Yaa Asabea Owusu (email@example.com)