“Africans in Diaspora are more interested in working for their own country than for other countries, and each country has peculiar challenges and strategic priorities for development.” Therefore, there should be more of a consortium that would enable the exchange of experience on various challenges, strategies, success stories, and failure stories obtained along the development process.”
Recently, Kenya launched the Ministry of Diaspora to address issues affecting its citizens even as it focuses on boosting remittances. “The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected,” Dr Ruto said in his inaugural address shortly after taking the oath of office as Kenya’s 5th President. It is essential to coordinate the willingness and efforts of the Africa-Diaspora in a manner which will be meaningful to how ordinary Africans make a living in their homes and communities. Africans abroad are Africa’s most significant “aid donors”. Thus, the issue needs to be how we can capitalize [on] and best utilize the “intellectual capital” contributions of the diaspora regarding ICT development and utilization in the continent. Globalization presents both technical and political challenges to Africa, and the African diaspora demands both technical responses – marshalling of acquired knowledge and expertise for use by various groups and actors and political responses, formation of a global African civil society to hold key factors and institutions, African and others, to account.
It is clear that there is a need for deepening fundamental studies on Africa’s transformation, expressing considerable interest in the Economic Commission for Africa continuing this policy and research focus considered vital for a better understanding of African issues. Particular attention is to be paid to how African governments can translate the diaspora policy recommendations into plans that yield tangible benefits for the continent. Thus far, Africa’s diaspora has played a prominent role in Africa’s development trajectory. Their increasing financing role through remittances sees them positioned as a strategic and promising partner for Africa’s development, but their gaze is cast further than direct familial investment. As African countries embark on a bold, transformative agenda, breaking away from their past dependence on the export of primary commodities and seeking innovative ways of moving up the value chains, its diaspora communities can add value to the human and financial capital needed to achieve this.
Integration efforts to sustain Pan-Africanism among the Diaspora Community.
Repatriation is controversial because many Africans in the diaspora may have chosen their present countries of residence, seeking relief from the severity in their countries of birth/origin, whether these asperities are of political, social, or economic origins (or a combination thereof). In this connection, the choice to return to Africa or stay behind and work closely with the continent should be left to the diaspora. Using the intellectual capabilities of the diaspora does not necessarily mean bringing them back home; it means drawing the most out of their knowledge and experience and putting it into ‘home service’. Instead, governments should permit the Africans in Diaspora to obtain dual citizenship and consultancy assignments.
Despite the growing diversity of the African diaspora in contemporary times, it is well placed to build on its long tradition and history, effectively contributing to pan-Africanist ideas and struggles and contributing to Africa’s regional integration. Nonetheless, creating awareness among the African diaspora links between the local, the regional, and the global is an urgent and ongoing political task. For example, the UK-based African Diaspora has grown in diversity recently, giving it the potential to have a more significant impact than might be predicted from the numbers or resource base alone. The African diaspora in the UK organizes primarily based on identity – ethnicity, alma mater region, etc. Still, these parochial organizations house vast knowledge and operate as active, applied knowledge networks. Although dedicated professional knowledge networks undeniably have essential roles in contributing to Africa’s development and regional integration, a focus on these organizations must sit alongside a focus on the more diffuse and diverse diaspora organizations that enjoy broad support and legitimacy among members of the African Diaspora. African diaspora organizations have demonstrated their capacity to network and collaborate to further their specific aims. This body is well towards their support for regional integration in Africa.
As African countries embark on a bold, transformative agenda, breaking away from their past dependence on the export of primary commodities and seeking innovative ways of moving up the value chains, their diaspora communities can add value to the human and financial capital needed to achieve this. Based on a shared vision and agreement on objectives, the African diaspora must both support an enlightened and progressive African leadership accountable for agreed agendas and actions. Therefore, those involved in the discussion should not cast doubt on the dedication of the more recent segments of the African diaspora to Africa and their connections to domestic developments. In fact, the more interesting fact is how many mainstream development practitioners and policymakers are surprised by the significance of the African Diaspora to Africa’s story. Furthermore, mainstream development is organized based on a very different set of presumptions, not the least of which is that Africans, both at home and abroad, are unable to change their reality and determine their future.
We should acknowledge the African Union’s Diaspora Division, which serves as the focal point and hub for implementing the African Union’s decision to invite and encourage the African Diaspora to participate in the building and development of the African continent.
By: Eric Muhia
Author Image Attribution: Eric Muhia
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