To enable Africa to achieve sustainable, rapid but controlled development, it is necessary to integrate the African diaspora, considered as the 6th region of the continent. Unfortunately, for the intervention of the latter is effective, it is imperative that all African diasporas scattered around the world have a common vision of the actions to be taken, including the creation of businesses.
What are the specificities of the different African diasporas?
Is the term “diaspora” a reality or is it better to consider that there is a unique diaspora with its own specificities? According to Rajat Gupta of McKinsey, two types of diasporas coexist: on the one hand, the one composed of qualified persons and on the other hand, the one who emigrated for economic reasons and who occupies posts abroad not requiring specific qualifications.
In contrast, the “elite” of the African diaspora evolve mainly in sectors of activity such as ICT, pharmaceutical research or medicine. To unify the diasporas and the African continent, it is essential to establish an inventory of the capacities and skills of each of the actors involved.
To propose joint projects in their country of origin, trust must be established between the different parties. African governments need to put in place schemes that encourage business creation by members of the diaspora in their new host country.
Such initiatives should not be seen as a threat to state sovereignty. On the contrary, such projects would create employment at the local level.
The weight of financial transfers
For many years, the African diaspora has focused on transferring funds to their home country. However, more and more members of the diaspora wish to invest in their country of origin. To achieve this, they must be able to integrate local relational networks.
It is understood that these investments in Africa must come from a common reflection of the African diaspora to determine the key sectors in which it is wise to invest in the form of business creation. As long as personal initiatives continue, it is unlikely that they can contribute to the real development of Africa.
Nevertheless, some national governments are reluctant to give the diaspora a specific and favorable status for business creation. This is for example the case of Benin.
A lack of a formalized framework in Africa
The creation of a common project of the diaspora implies to have in Africa a formalized framework allowing it to evaluate the risks to invest in this or that sector or those to avoid. Both stakeholders (Diaspora and African governments) need to engage in a constructive dialogue about how and under which conditions they can collaborate, with a view to mobilizing their respective capacities.
As long as there is no formal framework to ensure the safety of investments in a number of African countries, it seems difficult or impossible for the African diaspora to set up joint development projects.
Hence the importance of uniting the diaspora around common projects
The African diaspora must pool its skills and know-how to contribute to the development of the African continent. This reality implies the creation of a unified structure at European, national or regional level, for example. This type of structure would make it possible to coordinate financial investments, cultural projects, etc.
The many organizations of the African diaspora are characterized by a diversity of interests or forms. Indeed, the typology of actors in the diaspora is multiple: ethnic association, professional organization, development education center, artistic groups, virtual organization, research groups, etc.
The commitment of the diaspora must take into account three dimensions:
- Development within the diaspora
- Development through the diaspora
- Development by the diaspora
These three dimensions are closely related. As long as these are not taken into account, it seems vain to want to create a joint project initiated by the African diaspora.
It is true that for more than a decade, many initiatives have emerged. For example, in the United States, the African Federation, Inc. has made contact with the African diaspora throughout the country. Its objective: to set up a support framework aimed at strengthening the capacities of the African diaspora who wishes to contribute to the development of the continent.
The Oxfam Novib Association has managed to federate many organizations of the African diaspora together. Indeed, Oxfam Novib strives to stimulate the creation of alliances, regional, national and international between these different organizations so that they gather together around a project.
This initiative has resulted in the formation of new alliances such as the Sudan Civil Society Forum, which brings together 42 Sudanese organizations, ENNOS which concerns the Ethiopian diaspora and which is made up of 15 organizations, the Multicultural Women Peacemakers Network (18 women from the African diaspora of different nationalities but mainly from regions in conflict).
These new alliances participate in activities promoting development in their country of origin (start-ups, training for capacity building, skills transfer, etc.).
For example, in the UK, Gibril Faal, president of AFFORD, the African Development Foundation initiated by Africans residing in the United Kingdom, works to expand and strengthen the contribution of the African diaspora to the development of the continent. He is also the founder of RemitAid ™, a program designed to obtain a tax rebate for remittances from Africa to the Diaspora. The pooled fund is used to finance joint African Diaspora initiatives in the United Kingdom for development in countries where members of the same diaspora originate.
Capacity Building: A Must-Have Element to Maximize the Contribution of Diasporas to Development
Improving the networking of different diaspora groups and the creation of mutual support structures is only feasible if diaspora organizations develop their capacities according to what they want to put in place and how to do it. reach.
Diaspora members of an African country must work together and collaborate with other diasporas at the national, regional and global levels.
There is a need for structures that allow them to share lessons, resources and strategies with other diasporas. The aim is to put in place concrete actions and to mobilize resources.
Despite the various resources (human, financial, etc.) that the African diaspora represents, it will not achieve, in a sustainable, unified and meaningful way, to contribute to the development of Africa while on the African continent, no framework formal definition of the role of the African diaspora as an actor involved in the development of Africa.