The opening of the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference was indeed brilliant. It is already known that the conference will be packed with enthusiastic participants. Over 1,200 participants have registered for the conference. Registration has come from as far as Japan and Nigeria. The room at the Jamaica Pegasus was filled to capacity at times, during the double purposed night. Under the theme “Partnering for Growth”, the impact of just the share numbers of registered participants, indicates that an exciting 3 days will be had.
To lead of the week in this manner only leaves the audience with high expectations. In like manner, the speeches throughout the night challenged the audience to take these 3 days and dig deep into their mental recesses to come up with innovative ideas to bring forth the growth that is inevitable with positive partnerships. Whether as customers or owners of local companies, the diaspora has been tasked with engaging in lasting relationships with local service, commodity, or merchandise dealers. As stated by Dr. Peter Philips, “…the diaspora is now an essential and integral part of the Jamaican family”. Dr. Phillips went on to explain;
With an emphasis on the need for Jamaicans abroad to be engaged in the improvement of the Jamaican society, Dr. Phillips furthered his thought with the following;
Dr. Phillips’ speech was well received and was a good segue to the speech by Miss Tanesha Westcarr, Diaspora Advisory Board member. Miss Westcarr emphasised the link between this years’ conference and the 55th year celebration of our independence’s theme “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad”. She also made it clear that the audience needs to remember how impactful Jamaica has been on the world.
Ms. Westcarr highlighted that the youth in the diaspora is seeking ways to invest in Jamaica through supporting local businesses. This being the case, the conference has ‘hit home’ with Jamaican youth overseas. With a concentration on the digital age engaging Jamaican youth overseas, the vision 2030 goal could be easily met as explained by Miss Westcarr. She also set the expectations of the conference from the diaspora before closing.
The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, the Honorable Olivia Grange galvanized the gratitude for the diaspora by thanking them for being such great representation in their overseas homes.
The minister took the room down a chronological build out of where we are today and ended by giving her challenge on how this conference should be approached.
Senator the Honorable Kamina Johnson Smith, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade focused on strategic success. She stressed that her efforts, through her ministry will work to make sure that the partnership between Jamaica and the diaspora is inclusive of everyone when “building, caring for, and protecting for our human capital”, “analyzing the drivers of economic growth”, and also, “promoting sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development”. To give cudos to the young leaders in the diaspora the Minister made sure to point out the following;
The Minister then thanked all involved with putting the conference together before welcoming the nations Prime Minister, the Most Honorable Andrew Holness. On a light note, the Prime Minister tried his best at traditional song before going into his vision for the conference.
With Growth as the center of the Prime Ministers speech, he concentrated on the actions that need to be taken to stem the growth needed. He mentioned the opportune time that we are now in to make sure that the work is done and done well. He also expressed how that work will be done and what to expect from it.
The Prime Minister then went on to explain the major push of his government to “confront the breakdown of law and order in the country”. With new legislation passed and other measures in the making, the level of commitment will be tangible and effective in short order. Safety and security of the country and it’s citizens has the highest focus for the government as explained by the Prime Minister.
The opening of the conference surely marked the beginning of an effort to continuously involve the diaspora in building Jamaica. The popular and appropriate phrase for the night is taken from Jamaica’s vision 2030 where the aim is to make Jamaica “the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business”. If the conference is an indication of how this will be accomplished, the goal will be met.