Twenty-one years ago, a group of Africans who had migrated to Ireland for various reasons came together to set up the Africa Centre.
The organisation, formerly known as the Africa Solidarity Centre was at the time set up to address issues of misrepresentation and inequality that they faced.
Fast forward to 2022, the Africa Centre is not only concerned about the welfare of diasporans in Ireland, or organising public forums; but also paying attention to happenings in their homelands.
Today, their efforts are bearing fruits – evident in developmental initiatives undertaken in different African countries, improvement in policies and increase in political representation of Africans in Ireland.
Having migrated to Ireland as a student years ago, Mr. Mbemba Jabbi is the Executive Director of the Africa Centre in Ireland. We were pleased to speak to him about some the initiatives he spearheads at the organisation.
“The Africa Centre works strategically based on four thematic areas”, he says. “Participation and inclusion of African people in Ireland, development education and resource development on Africa, advocating and campaigning to inform policy in Ireland at the European and African level, and recently the Africa Program – which we initiated in 2018”, Mr. Jabbi adds.
Initially, the Africa Program was designed to engage the diaspora in developmental activities and inform policy in terms of migration using for example the Global Compact on Migration and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guideline on the continent.
In Gambia, the Africa Centre is set up and works to build relationships with various institutions. Mr. Jabbi explains further: “Our framework is based on a Public – Private Partnership (PPP), thereby we work with Ministry of Local Governments; and also call ourselves a diaspora international NGO. The approach in Gambia is based on three thematic areas- diaspora engagement, youth empowerment and capacity building. We also provide training on migration and work towards the kind of collective solutions we can get in terms of entrepreneurship creation, financial literacy, skills development and many other interventions. We have an initiative that helps support vegetable growers and educate them on building soft skills to diversify their enterprises.”
In Ireland, the Africa Centre works with government institutions on migration issues as well. It also organizes lectures and invites people on the African continent to speak on developmental issues.
There is a lot to look forward to regarding the future of the Africa Centre Ireland and Mr. Jabbi shares some of them with us.
“We will start recruiting diaspora volunteers mainly born or raised in Ireland to take part in cultural trips that will allow them to be involved in developmental activities in African countries. In collaboration with our membership, we look forward to forming partnerships which will encourage investment on the continent. There is a lot of work to be done and we intend to engage governments on how we can leverage remittances into investment for SME development. We are happy to work with like-minded organisations to achieve our various objectives such as how diaspora investments can be safeguarded, which remains a problem. Encouraging Africans to register and participate in political leaderships is still on our agenda.”
“Our 3-year programme in Gambia which we are developing is centred around environment, entrepreneur development as well as capacity development, campaign and advocacy. We intend to plant 2 million trees within the period, be involved in sustainable agro forestry, and eco-tourism in collaboration with key government ministries. In terms of employability for local people, manufacturing and food processing are sectors we will be providing support in. Political education to encourage equal representation of people will also feature in our advocacies and campaigns. We are also working on capacity development programs to train local people with improved technology units and other environmental preservation techniques that will improve their income.
To know more about the Africa Centre in Ireland, kindly visit their WEBSITE.
Interview by: Theresa R. Fianko
Image(s) Attribution: Mr. Mbemba Jabbi / Africa Centre, Ireland