HomeEntrepreneurshipDentaa Amoateng: Empowering Ghana's Diaspora Connections as the Ultimate Super-Connector

Dentaa Amoateng: Empowering Ghana’s Diaspora Connections as the Ultimate Super-Connector

Akosua Dentaa Amoateng is a trusted figure for members of the diaspora aiming to rediscover their Ghanaian heritage or explore investment opportunities in Ghana. Utilizing her broad networks spanning Ghana, the US, and the UK, she actively fosters cultural connections. In an interview with The Africa Report, she explains her vision of going ‘Beyond the Return’.

My initial plan was to meet Dentaa Amoateng for coffee in London to discuss Ghana’s much talked about ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative, but with the British-Ghanaian entrepreneur busy in Accra fixing meetings we settled for a virtual coffee to chat about her remarkable ability to sell Ghana to the diaspora.

Dentaa is a relentless advocate for the Black community. From the Manhyia Palace (seat of the Asantehene, the monarch of Ghana’s Ashanti Kingdom) to Ofori Panin Fie (the royal palace of the Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa in the Eastern Region of Ghana), she facilitates meaningful experiences including meetings with esteemed traditional leaders for Ghanaian diaspora members eager to deepen ties with the West African country.

Prior to going all out to provide soft landing for people in the diaspora seeking to move to Ghana, do business in the country, or connect with government officials, Dentaa was an actress who featured in legendary British TV shows EastEnders and Holby City.

Fifteen years on, after winning several awards and an MBE honour, Dentaa – who runs GUBA (Grow, Unite, Build Africa) Diaspora Network and is among Ghana’s power influencers – says there is no better time than now to rally people in the diaspora to return home.

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Full circle moment

“The African diaspora has a key role to play in the development of Ghana, and between this group and people living in Ghana, we can work together to influence development policies, establish businesses and create stronger ties for mutual success,” she tells The Africa Report.

When famous Dutch football stars Edgar Davids and Memphis Depay visited Ghana in 2022, Dentaa was the pivot, coordinating meetings between the sportsmen and President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Asantehene and the Asante Kokoto S.C. team. She also played a key role in Depay’s refurbishment of the Cape Coast School for the Blind and Deaf.

For Dentaa, it was a full circle moment when everyone in the room discovered that Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, the 16th Asantehene, knew Memphis’ grandfather. Such moments of discovery during meetings she facilitates give her a sense of fulfilment.

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“You coming back home affirms that I nearly lost my grandson but he’s back. This is where you belong,” Otumfuo told Depay, while describing Dentaa as an “indefatigable organiser”.

‘Beyond the return’

Ghana’s successful 2019 ‘Year of Return’ campaign brought about $1bn into the economy, attracting nearly 1.5 million tourists including world leaders and celebrities like Steve Harvey, Naomi Campbell, Cardi B, Akon, Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba.

The campaign featured a year-long programme of activities to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in the State of Virginia in the United States. To keep up the momentum, Ghana launched the Beyond the Return’ programme in 2020, which again has Dentaa playing a lead role, drawing in people from the diaspora to reconnect with their heritage through cultural visits, relocation and investment in local businesses.

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255527476_10159742799638582_2187062229807157869_n © Dentaa celebrates Ghanaian culture in traditional dress. (Dentaa Amoateng/Facebook/All rights reserved)

The new campaign isn’t just fluff or about people in the diaspora visiting briefly and flying back. Dentaa counts the growing list of new small businesses and social support initiatives in Ghana being enabled by Ghanaians in the diaspora as invaluable additions to the country’s economy.

Black Tax problem

According to Dentaa, this can help to deal with the burden of Black Tax (the pressure to send money back to extended family on the continent) on Africans in the diaspora.

“Initiatives like ‘Beyond the Return’ can alleviate the pressure of Black Tax by creating economic opportunities and fostering sustainable development in communities, reducing the need for individuals to solely rely on family members abroad for financial support,” she says.

According to the World Bank, the African Diaspora sends more than US $48 billion in remittances annually.

While arguments have been made about how critical this inflow is to African economies, not much is said about the toll it takes on the African diaspora and how it often strains the relationship between those in the diaspora and on the continent.

For Dentaa, emphasis should be placed on promoting entrepreneurship, education and skills development in Ghana’s engagements with people in the diaspora to “empower locals to contribute to their communities”.

“Trade and industry in Ghana is another area that could benefit greatly from direct diaspora investment and could create many jobs. There are several small and medium-scale businesses that require little investment to scale up,” Dentaa says.

Moving forward

The African proverb ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’ means something to Dentaa as she reflects on what the next chapter of ‘Beyond the Return’ should be.

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“We can create more of such success as (‘Year of Return’) by venturing out and partnering with other countries to replicate the initiative,” she says.

She is curious about how digital platforms and technology can be leveraged to support virtual networking and resource-sharing between Ghanaians in Ghana and their counterparts in the diaspora to “ensure that ‘Beyond the Return’ continues to evolve and thrive in the years to come”, she says. She is optimistic that it could be the new frontier for Ghana’s diaspora engagements.

In spite of the huge potential of the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative, Ghana must be careful not to overburden its people in the diaspora, Dentaa says. One way to prevent that fatigue, according to Dentaa, is for the Ghanaian government to “invest in critical infrastructure and resources to support diaspora-led projects”.

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