Right Of Abode Ghana For The Diaspora…Is It Really Worth The Hype?
Yes, there are a number of issues in respect of the application. There seems to be such huge interest in the Right of Abode status, particularly from the African American community in the United States. The Government of Ghana’s year of return to the program contributed immensely to this phenomenal interest in the program.
Unfortunately, this huge interest immersed in high expectations has left many expectant applicants jaded and disappointed. Many come in with high hopes but return with huge disappointment and floundered hopes.
The reality is that despite this huge interest, a number of people are not making the application for the status at all. I will attempt to recount some of the issues that currently confront the Right of Abode with recommendations for changes to be made in the current structure.
- The Government rhetoric on the promotion of the Right of Abode Status is a sharp cry from reality. The Government trumpeted the “Year of Return” program to encourage persons of African descent in the Diaspora to return home. The program was a resounding success, as many foreigners trooped in. Unfortunately, there appeared to be no policy towards looking at the legal regime on the Right of Abode. The current law, as it stands now, is so prohibitive, unwelcoming, and a slap in the face of modern trends toward State promotion of investment for residents.
- However, it did nothing by way of amending the requirements to make it easy for people to access the program and immigrate to Ghana.
- In our view, the number one obstacle hindering the successful implementation of the program is the residency requirement. To be eligible, a person must have lived in Ghana for at least 7 years. This is an immediate put-off to interested applicants who learn that they must reside in Ghana for 7 years for a status that does not confer citizenship.
- To put it into perspective, consider these examples. The residence requirement for a Right of Abode Status is 7 years. Yet, a person can obtain indefinite residence status in Ghana if they live here for 5 years. Both grant the same rights and privileges. So why is the residence requirement for permanent residence more benevolent than the Right of Abode program the government is promoting and encouraging?
- Again, a person can obtain citizenship in Ghana if they live here for 6 years. Why then does the Right of Abode status which does not confer citizenship rights has a longer residence requirement than a citizenship application? What is the sense in waiting for 7 years to apply for a Right of Abode status when they can obtain permanent residence in 5 years, or even citizenship in 6 years? How can the Government say they are promoting and encouraging Diaspora return through the Right of Abode status with such obnoxious residence requirement provisions? So therein lie the frustrations.
- From our observation, we believe the government must implement a more favourable residence requirement. They may also consider even waiving the residence requirement for persons who fall within certain prescribed classifications like persons wishing to contribute a certain minimum financial investment in Ghana, persons holding certain professional qualifications, etc.