Africans in diaspora will help Africa reach the next level of economic development

August 19, 2013

Since the African countries started experiencing economic and democratic growths, there has been recognition on the value in tapping the resources of their citizens who live abroad especially Europe, North America and Middle East. In today’s globalized societies, individual networks play a crucial role. Africa’s diaspora community can continues to provide new contacts for nascent African countries businesses. The diaspora can also help with innovative ideas and the much needed capital. In the 1980s, countries like Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana made concerted efforts to woo its countrymen and women living abroad to invest at home. And that trend has spread to all countries including war torn Somalia. Countries like south Sudan, Somalia have in the recent past launched campaigns to get its citizens working in foreign countries to return to their homeland.  For the case of Somalia, most of its citizens live in Kenya while South Sudan has its majority residing in Uganda. To this date, almost all African countries have diaspora policies or are in the process of developing one. Such policies enhance countries capabilities of tapping into resources of their citizens living abroad. In East African countries and in particular Uganda and Kenya, diaspora remittances have averaged $900m per annum for the past three years. As a result, there has been a demonstration of government seriousness in tapping the resources and brain capital of Ugandans and Kenyans who have built their lives outside Africa.

By engaging citizens in diaspora, African countries have been using very valuable tools that will help the continent reach the next level of economic prosperity and development agenda. Facts and statistics shows that countries like India, Turkey, South Korea and China have developed their economies by bridging the link of their diaspora remittances and human capital to become advanced and much developed countries. Given that estimated 150 million Africans and people of African decent currently live outside Africa, the network and financial muscle of these community could act as growth. In countries like Uganda and Rwanda, the diaspora communities have been instrumental in incubation of cutting edge ideas and have so far implemented projects that are being applied at their respective home countries. Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania governments have been enticing their citizens living in western world countries to invest in the country. Somalia, Ethiopia and Zambia have gone beyond capital resources and are asking their citizens to return home. What I find disappointing in such initiatives is that most governments have failed to come up with well thought out policies as well as comprehensive and attractive programs.

Contador Harrison