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Ghana’s ‘Right of Abode’ Program Could Attract More Black People from Across the Globe But Marred by Loopholes

Photo credit: Tameshia Rudd-Ridge

Photo credit: Tameshia Rudd-Ridge

By Manny Otiko

Several centuries ago, Ghana was known as one of the starting points of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Today, the modern state of Ghana is gaining a reputation for being a destination for Blacks in the Diaspora who want to reconnect with their roots.

Ghana currently offers the “Right of Abode” program, which allows people of African descent to gain permanent residency. According to the Ghanaian Immigration Act of 2000, “The concept of right of abode under Immigration Law is that person having the right of abode ‘shall be free to live and to come and go into and from the country without let or hindrance.’”

The Ghanaian residency program does have some stipulations. Black people looking to resettle in Ghana must be at least 18-years-old, of good character, financially independent and not been convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to imprisonment of 12 months or more.

The current law has some loopholes, which could lead to future legal problems, said Nana-Adjoa Kwarteng, a content and policy writer for Ghana International Chamber of Commerce which is based in Atlanta, Ga.

“There is a possibility that someone will attempt to challenge such a rule on the grounds of racial discrimination. What does it mean to be of African descent?” Kwarteng said.  “There are cases, such as that of Craig Cobb’s, (a white nationalist) a man who discovered that he was 14 percent sub-Saharan African, that would be complex to resolve. Would he be a viable candidate? Perhaps the language needs to be more specific, although I am unsure of how one would go about that without being highly discriminatory.”

There is some confusion about the law, according to Tameshia Rudd-Ridge, who is originally from Plano, Texas, and moved to Accra, Ghana’s capital, last September.

The ‘Right to Abode’ policy was introduced 14 years ago and has yet to be fully implemented,” Rudd-Ridge said. “Rita Marley (Bob Marley’s widow) is the only person it’s been granted to.”

Rudd-Ridge said there is a thriving community of Black expatriates in Ghana, people from the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil. However, Rudd-Ridge said there is a generational divide between the African Americans. Some Black Americans settled in the country back in the 1960s, when they were encouraged to move there by Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and leader of the Pan-African movement. Now there are newer Black American emigres, like Rudd-Ridge, who have moved there to play a role in Ghana’s on-going development and pursue economic opportunities.

Rudd-Ridge, who is conducting research on youth civic engagement and new media, is also working on a master’s degree in communication from the University of Arkansas. She lived in Rwanda before moving to Ghana and is on a journey to travel to all 54 nations on the continent. She is part of the team behind a website and app called Tastemakers Africa. The company is revolutionizing what the world thinks about travel in Africa and helping travelers book unique experiences in African cities.

Rudd-Ridge said one of the biggest challenges of doing business in Ghana is dealing with the irregular power supply. This has caused her to become quite creative in finding business sites with regular power, so she can continue working during power outages.

Unlike Rudd-Ridge, Arkansas native Mona Boyd has been living in Ghana for more than two decades. She moved there 22 years ago, with her husband and son, and has taken advantage of Ghana’s business potential.

“We also recognized the business opportunities available in Ghana, so we decided to leave our jobs in private industry and move to Ghana to open our own business,” Boyd said.

However, Boyd said it was a struggle when she first moved there.

“When my husband and I began our businesses it was very difficult,” Boyd said. “The business infrastructure was almost non existent. We had no business track record in Ghana, so we couldn’t get a loan for over five years. Telephones didn’t work most of the time, finding properly trained manpower was extremely difficult, nothing worked the way it was supposed too.”

Boyd said she knew several Ghanaians who returned home,

Photo credit: Tameshia Rudd-Ridge

Photo credit: Tameshia Rudd-Ridge

got frustrated and eventually returned to America. Boyd and her family decided to stick it out and it has paid off.

“We stayed with it because failure was not a choice so we were tenacious and kept trying,” Boyd said. “I am so glad we did because today we have two successful businesses that are doing very well.”

She currently owns an Avis car rental company and also operates Landtours Ghana, a travel company that organizes tours in several African nations.

Boyd has also taken advantage of the Right of Abode program and now has dual citizenship.

“I first heard about the Right of Abode law around 1998 through the African-American Association in Ghana and I applied for dual citizenship around 2000,” Boyd said.

She was concerned Black Americans interested in the Right of Abode program might have trouble navigating through the local bureaucracy.

“Most African Americans know about the law but they do not know how to go about applying for dual citizenship,” Boyd said. “It is difficult to know where to go to apply and to find out what is required. There are no written guidelines that I know of that provide instructions on how to apply for dual citizenship.”

Although Boyd seems to be doing well in Ghana, she still visits the United States regularly.

“I return to the U.S. at least four times a year. Most of these visits are for business. Many of our clients are based in the U.S.,” Boyd said. “I was born in the U.S. and America was my home for most of my life. I do miss the ease of doing things and the conveniences of having everything readily available.”

What people are saying

32 thoughts on “Ghana’s ‘Right of Abode’ Program Could Attract More Black People from Across the Globe But Marred by Loopholes

  1. Encouraging food for thought.

  2. The African continent needs to make lots of reforms to facilitate movement from an African country to another. This will improve situations for those in diaspora who wish to come to Africa. It will also facilitate movement among Africans, improve diversity, increase awareness of other cultures, and enhance intra-African trade. Why take several visas of various African countries in order to visit? That is cumbersome, counterproductive and big hindrance. AU must act.

  3. Paul James says:

    Ghana and other African nations MUST adopt solar power if they are going to be a true power in the 21st century. You cannot conduct world business with a shoddy infrastructure. I need to see this in place before I make the move. Hopefully Akon's solar power initiative takes hold but it must work with the companies leading in solar and alternative energies to make it real. Free Africa from the petrodollar and watch the changes happen quick fast!

  4. Thomas Smith says:

    YES, you are exactly right, every government on the continent should be doing decentralized solar energy. I am contacting Akron my self!

  5. Felton Eaddy says:

    What's the status of the case of the recent murders of two African American women who had lived in Accra for a decade or more?

  6. Sade Pilot says:

    I don't get to go on the birthright trip to Israel because I'm
    Not Jewish and hence it is not my birthright to receive an all expenses paid trip to that country. If Ghana wants to institute it's own birthright type of offer, it should be allowed to do that unchallenged.

  7. I think it's a good idea for Fihankra International to repatriate Africans from the diaspora. But, could the indigenous population consider repatriated Africans as outsiders? I think that when we repatriate to any country in Africa we must be careful not to exhibit any colonial attitudes we learn from our living with Europeans. We have to be humble in our efforts to rejoin African society. We are damaged goods!

  8. Thomas Smith says:

    I agree with you mostly, there is some damage to AA but our experience in the belley of the beast is very valuable; the big question is can the African way of thinking and doing things compete successfully with the west? in the past it did not so what to do?

  9. Aala Devine says:

    Those who want to go……ENJOY! I am heading to one of my ancestors land in the Islands right here in the Americas!

  10. Susan Murphy says:

    I agree with you. It will go unchallenged as long as the Ghana government calls their own shots. They need to tell outsiders to butt out!

  11. You are right you are not jew-ish you are a jew Hebrew we are the lost tribes of Israel (The Israelites). The bible is our history

  12. Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo and Benin should do this also

  13. "Craig Cobb’s, (a white nationalist) a man who discovered that he was 14 percent sub-Saharan African" – that's the headline but that is not quite how the science works is it…

  14. Con Van R says:

    So you want African governments to provide YOU solar energy before you make a move? Your statement sounds foolish with all due respect. You can buy your own solar panels anywhere on the continent. I live in kenya and I'm from Brooklyn. You have money, go buy the panels, its just that easy !!

  15. Paul James says:

    Con Van R Read it again and slowly. I said, if if I (or anyone else) is going to bring real industry there, Ghana needs to strengthen it's infrastructure (eg. power and telecommunications network) in order to be viable in a global marketplace. When it comes to bringing big business to africa, it's not about charity, it's business. It's about a nation making positive steps to becoming a wholly sustainable into the 21st century. It's about raising the standard of living for all ghanaians. Every move should be about independence from chinese and american influence and building a positive model of commerce and industry for the world.

  16. "Descendants of Africans who were enslaved" and/or Black people RETURNING to Mother Africa are "REPATRIATES", not expatriates.

    Returning to Mother Africa is a birth right….African nations still upholding borders drawn by Europeans in 1884 (See "Berlin Conference" –"The Scramble for Africa").

    One example of Black neo-colonialism.

  17. Well with all the racism, hated of us; I will be elated to have the opportunity to leave here. One guy is offering $1,000,000, a car and a house. Being 55 I could life he rest of my life out with that. I know about investing a little, so, that would do me just fine. If anyone knows how to get in contact with them let me know I'm outta here!!

  18. Evan Monae says:

    I am currently in Kenya and could really use some advise to becoming a new citizen of africa please give me any advise or suggestions please. I love it here thus far andam currenty just visiting. Nairobi was like new york to busy for my liking but I would appreciate suggestions.

  19. Evan Monae says:

    Con Van R any suggestions I am here in Kenya and I am trying to get acclimated.

  20. Amali Cabral says:

    Latrell Watson Come on brother it's 2016 show me what year the first Torah was printed???Or Bible and where?

  21. Amali Cabral says:

    Who is this "Guy" and is there any other investments like this???

  22. …As for whites/Caucasians…DNA valid are they??? ….do whites use the outcome from a DNA test to apply for a job or to attend university?…what does their passport indicate? …What does their social security information indicate?

  23. Uch Ukandu says:

    The simple advice is to keep travelling round different African countries and cities until your heart and head tells you it is here. Be cautious and take advice always, tap into diasporan networks and claim your heritage.

  24. Do you have a link please?

  25. Greetings brother.

  26. Ron Murray says:

    Most important LEARN THE LANGUAGE.

    If not, u will never feel integrated.

  27. Con Van R Solar power is a smart way to go for Ghana it is essential to have power for producing goods and encouraging trade and tourism all thinbgs that benefit the average citizen and free you from reliance on foreign powers it is about self direction and empowerment.

  28. Amali Cabral We are not your brothers.

  29. Trish Walker says:

    Paul James I'm glad you said free Africa from European and Chinese rule because Akon is in cahoots with the Chinese.

  30. Paul James says:

    Herby Norelis Yes, one person with a solar array will not do it. But a village with an solar array, a community, a district with acres of solar panels and a vision of commerce now has a chance to create a scale of business that eclipses traditional subsistence farming. It would raise the standard of living for all involved. It would slow the migration to cities because they could stay rural and find work (cities in their current guise are bad places) while raising the standard of living for those with the least. And even if they never went into trade and commerce and just grew yams, they would feed themselve and have abundance. PS: don't be a hater. There is enough hate focused towards black thought. We don't need to generate it ourselves. PS-thanks for the insight. Scale and ownership. mportant points.

  31. Paul James Yeah but when all the infrastructure is up, you aren't going to be able to afford it anymore, once it looks like New York City it will have prices to match it.

  32. What is the status of the two officers who killed the african american man who lived in Baton Rogue for decades, alton sterling?

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