Across the globe, you can see the impact of sport on local economies. Golf doesn’t tend to pull masses of spectators, but it does pull in big name sponsorships. Take a look at the recent Accra Open, hosted by the Achimota Golf Club last month. The main sponsor this year was MTN, one of Africa’s largest telecommunications suppliers. They were not alone. Other prominent contributors included Virgin Atlantic and Guinness Ghana Breweries; and the list does not end there.
Under the leadership of Club Captain, Rene Kwame-Gameli, the 2012 Accra Open put previous incarnations to shame. It was only his second competition, and yet he is quoted as saying, “It’s been good, last year for the first time in the history of the club, we gave GH¢10,000 to the winner and this year we are increasing it to GH¢15,000.” A 50% increase in prize money is big indeed.
The event brought out the best in Ghanaian golfers – and local businessmen. With Sir Sam Jonah as the Guest of Honour, the tournament was a quick guide to the Who’s Who of Ghanaian elite. And, when the upper echelons of society display their class and style, the rumbling for a middle class with a disposable income grows.
Oddly enough, an avenue was presented, almost simultaneously, which may do just that. Elsewhere in Accra, the European Union (EU) began calling for a migration pact between the EU and Ghana. It was a quiet announcement in the midst of the Accra Open; even savvy entrepreneurs caught up in the delight of the golf may have missed it.
The principle of the pact is to form a migration and stability programme between Ghana and European Union countries. Ghanaians have been migrating to Europe for an awfully long time, despite the difficulties many face as migrants abroad. It is only fair to question why the doors would open so easily this time around.
Claude Maerten, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Ghana did not seek to hide European motives as the announcement was made. He says, “In Europe, we have situations in some economic sectors where we do not have enough manpower. We foresee that with the aging population in Europe, there would be the need to have manpower coming from other countries of the world. And so, we have considered some of this for Ghana.”
In short, Europe needs labour. And Ghanaians are providing it. By developing a migration programme, both sides can regulate the flow of people, and, therefore, resources. And it is not just money that is at stake here. Mr Maerten emphasised the necessity for Ghanaians abroad to return and develop their home country with the skill sets garnered from European experience.
In addition, Ghana will continue to receive financial assistance from the EU between 2014 and 2020. (Which is an impressive vote of confidence considering that several European countries are in economic turmoil at the moment.)
But why not? If so many skilled Ghanaians are heading to Europe, why shouldn’t the country be entitled to some benefits from the European Union? It could even be called sponsorship as it represents a potential marketing opportunity, just as much as it does assistance. The Accra Open enjoys substantial sponsorship for the marketing opportunities it provides. Of course, the Accra Open has only one winner. Will a migration pact between the EU and Ghana have only one winner? And if so, who?