Ghana: An Oasis of Opportunity for African Americans in California

High Level Delegates Welcome Partnerships and Brothers and Sisters Home

By Carla Thomas

With a vow to reclaim their brothers and sisters and a desire to do business with African Americans in California, of which they consider an extension of their own people, over a dozen heads of state from Ghana opened the doors to their country. 

Sponsored and hosted by Bay Area business leaders, Kofi Bonner of Lennar Urban, Geoffrey Pete and Clyde Sotomey of Sterling Energy Partners, The Ghana Business and Trade Delegation event was quite a success.

Themed “Building and Growing Sustainable Partnerships,” the delegation included a whirlwind of business and social activities further building the bond between African Americans in the Bay Area, Ghanaians in the Bay Area and many of the most distinguished representatives of the West African nation. 



Carla Thomas and Chairman, Mr. Kobina Ade Coker

Business meetings held at the Claremont Hotel between Black owned businesses in the Bay Area and California were nurtured in the areas of IT, Infrastructure, Real Estate, Housing, Energy and Export-Import.

 “We lost over 90 million in the slave trade and to rebuild the relationship with our brothers and sisters is phenomenal and exciting.  This is the beginning and we won’t stop here,” Geoffrey Pete, along with Michael Baines of Baines Group, Inc.  “This week of conferences has exceeded our expectations,” said Ghanaians, Bonner and Sotomey, both Bay Area based businessmen.

In the midst of business meetings, site visits and galas coordinated by Cathy Adams of CDA Consulting Group at the Claremont Hotel, delegates had the opportunity to visit The Museum of the African Diaspora.  Executive Director, Grace Stanislaus welcomed the delegates to partner with the organization.  “We look forward to partnering with Ghana in the next phase of the museums growth and want them to spread the word about our institution and its significance in San Francisco.”  Delegates dined and privately toured an exclusive exhibit; the Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) in India.  This was the first time the colorful quilts and video presentation were displayed outside of India.

Throughout the week the excitement mounted for representatives of both nations throughout each event.

“Ghana is known for its rich natural resources, but its greatest resource is its people.  They are marvelous people.  I am reminded of what humanity is all about and Ghana has taught me so much over the years.  So I consider myself a citizen of Ghana,” said Trade Mission Facilitator, Dr. Ruth Love as she was honored at the Claremont evening gala along with Bonner, Pete and Sotomey. 

EOYDC Executive Director Regina Jackson said, “I look forward to creating youth development programs in Ghana.”

Delegate Archyn Brew-Butler, Owner of Orijin Culture is connecting all African descendants together through his online magazine.  “This is a moment in time when people of African descent should come together to develop the continent where we all originated from.”

“I think it’s very critical that we have direct links to Ghana, invest in Ghana and leverage their resources to understand our place and our ability to create healthier and economically viable communities in both countries,” said Dr.  Elnora Webb, President of Laney College.

“I think it’s a great opportunity any time you can bridge continents and it’s an opportunity to create work and more opportunity, so I applaud them for everything that they are doing,” said Sandra Varner of Varner Media Syndicate.

According to the elegantly dressed and eloquently spoken Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, The Honorable Sherry Ayittey, Ghana has single digit inflation, a stable currency and is a gateway to all of West Africa.  “We have enough international reserves that cover and equal imports and exports to sustain for 3-6 months.  And we have2 -3. 5 billion dollars to cover our imports and exports.” 

Minister Ayittey further explained that a flexible investment policy along with a judiciary system that allows arbitration in Europe and the U.S. courts are great reasons to invest.  She discussed that the country has a 400% housing deficit, with much opportunity in real estate development, IT infrastructure, oil and energy management, alternative power along with commerce and export.  “We can trust that this partnership will transform a Ghana, California relationship,” she said before Congresswoman Barbara Lee, U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Advisor, The Honorable Teresa D. Cox, Linda Crayton of Sr. Director of Government Affairs, Comcast, keynote speaker Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon of the CPUC, The Honorable Willie Brown, Tracey Webb of Tracey Elizabeth Webb and Associates and Attorney John Burris.

The country has relied on exporting cocoa and the desire to diversify agriculturally is also a priority.  “The government has passed the private, public partnership policy, which means our government can guarantee private partnerships and our government can have a direct relationship with a company,” she continued.   “ECOWAS – the Economic Community of West African States, is 300 million people, not just Ghana, Ghana opens the opportunity to you and a gateway that will transcend across West Africa and Ghana is ready to be a focal point for expansion into the West African market.”

Minister Ayittey feels that all of Africa will soon be one Africa.  “We are stretching out our hands and inviting you.  We are confident that Ghana and California can work together and may God bless our homeland, Ghana and make both nations strong and that we are bold to defend two nations with partnership and equality.” 

 “Delegations like this remind us that we are connected and must get involved,” said actor Richard Gant, who is instrumental in projects in South Africa and Senegal.

 Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr. passionately preached, “Wherever you are, you are African,” to a standing ovation as the delegates were honored during Allen Temple’s Sunday Service.   “We have come far, but we are near.  Spiritually our people look forward to seeing you.  We are preserving our motherland and we want to see you,” said Minister Ayittey, during the service as she acknowledged Christ as the head of her life and the church as its body.

During the after service reception, Rev. Theophous  Reagans, Allen Temple Minister of Global Missions, said, “We are so proud to have you here with us enabling us to expand our cultural and educational work into the economic  sectors.”   Dr. Wade Nobles among distinguished guests said, “The business interest of Africa is the interest of Africans all over the world and so we should reach across the table as brothers and sisters, not as different cultures,” said Dr. Wade Nobles founder and Executive Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family, Life and Culture, Inc., .

“What slavery did was make place more important than people.  We can’t buy into that.  I am an African born in Massachusetts.  We must start referring to ourselves as our people name and not our place name,” said Dr. Nobles.

Chairman Ad-Coker impressed with his visit and the warm reception at Allen Temple expressed, “We want to receive a delegation of the youth of Allen Temple Church to our country next month.”    

“I am so proud of my Allen Temple family and that Ghana has been brought to Allen Temple,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose lineage is traced to Sierra Leone.  Being able to share our ministry really does increase the ties that bind us,” she said before the delegates, Allen Temple clergy, Global Missions department members, and Carol Williams, of Carol H. Williams and Associates.

“We are going back home with unity and that is what we’ve come to foster,” said Delegate Mr. Sam Nana Brew-Butler, Vice Chairman Board Directors, Central Region, Development Commission.