Why Africa should leverage on its diaspora strength

The resolutions passed at the global African Diaspora Symposium (GADS)held in Abuja has ushered new dawn on what the future of diaspora investments holds for the African continent.

Over 30 million Africans, plus 55 million Afro Brazilians and 45 million African-Americans, live outside the continent of Africa, and represent a vast network of potential partners for development. 

Through their resources in remittances and pension fund investments, they play a crucial role in Africa in investments, sustaining livelihoods and social services, as well as contributing to development initiatives through their expertise, networks, and social capital. 

Desiring to overcome the numerous challenges it faces such as poverty and conflict, Africa’s engagement with the diaspora communities in development initiatives is therefore necessary to help bridge critical development gaps.

In order to ensure the success of these engagements, several strategies need to be implemented, which include building trust and partnerships, including African governmental assurances of diaspora investments, and investing in capacity building and knowledge sharing, as well as creating an enabling policy environment that recognizes the role of the diaspora in Africa’s sustainable development.

It is against this background that the Global African Diaspora Symposium (GADS) Abuja 2023 was organized by the African Diaspora Alliance (AfDA) with the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) in conjunction with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) and the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), both of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Federal Government of Nigeria, at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria, as well as virtually, on 27th – 28th April, 2023 with the theme: “Building Stronger Connections between Africa and the Global Diaspora”.

The overall goal of the symposium was to offer a platform to facilitate a consultative, immersive interaction between African Diaspora and other stakeholders where workable solutions to Africa’s most pressing issues will be discussed and concrete strategies proffered for necessary partnerships between key diaspora leaders in business and professions with leaders on the African continent to achieve successful results. 

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Among the observations made during the symposium was that as long as Africa does not develop as it should, the world will continue to undermine and denigrate the continent, thus the need to emulate other races by harnessing the expertise and products of African diaspora by African governments, institutions and policymakers at all levels, irrespective of where they may be found, and particularly the unique role women have to play in this engagement process with African diaspora.

There are numerous investment opportunities within the regional economic blocs, as well as country investment programs, to engage with the diaspora for impact in African countries as the African diaspora, acting in concert, have the intellectual and financial capital to undertake program-specific financing of projects and programmes of the African Union (AU).

Diaspora intellectual capital and individual influence could be used to develop value chains in multi-million-dollar industries in Science and Technology, Agriculture, Trade and Manufacturing, Energy and Infrastructure Development, Tourism and Culture, among others.

Throughout, it was evident to participants that the symposium generated the impetus for the ongoing process of fostering effective engagement between the Diaspora and local actors in Africa.

This has been initiated through ongoing dialogue, building personal relationships, and prioritizing transparency and accountability in development initiatives by emphasizing a shared culture of collaboration, mutual respect, and responsibility for sustainable development efforts.

There was also renewed impetus towards enabling the African diaspora to have a central role in shaping sustainable development initiatives in Africa by ensuring that Diaspora-led organizations and networks are supported to lead and implement development projects in partnership with local actors, rather than being relegated to a secondary role.

This approach can help to ensure that the perspectives, experiences, and expertise of the diaspora are fully harnessed and used to drive sustainable development efforts in Africa.

The symposium secured a commitment by African countries to create enabling policy environment that recognizes the role of the African diaspora in sustainable development across the continent, and to do more to develop policies that support Diaspora engagement, including the creation of diaspora-focused initiatives, streamlined investment procedures, and support for Diaspora-led organizations and networks.

The symposium produced valuable policy recommendations and follow-up activities for effective implementation towards achieving the laudable objectives set out ab initio.

The writer, Dr Shem Ochuodho, is the President, AfDA and Global Chairman, African Diaspora Alliance (AfDA).